This is the second year of Mr. A and I attending the big official parent meeting that marks the beginning of a new successful school year.
This year, just like last year, while getting dressed, giving final instructions to the babysitter (my sister), putting on ties and make-up and grown-up clothes we had a moment. We looked at each other in the mirror and reminisced about how it was just the other day that we were dating, having fun and involved in our own relationship drama, and now here we are, responsible for two whole other people and attending an official parent meeting in the school hall with the headmaster, just like real grown ups!
How’d that happen?
As headmaster, Mr. Steyl has years of wisdom to impart on us parents that was gleaned from over 30 years of experience working with parents and children in the primary school sector. We always leave these meetings full of motivation to give our kids the very best support for a successful school year.
The crux of his talk was this:
Parents who play an active role in their child’s day-to-day also play a huge role in their success at school.”
I’d like to share and elaborate on some of what he said:
12 Tips for a Successful School Year
1. Wake your children up gently.
I prefer to be the one who to wake our kids in the mornings. Let’s just say that dad does not have mom’s gentle touch. He would yank the curtains open and fire off instructions like a drill sergeant while I prefer the more gentle approach. I myself am not a morning person and waking up abruptly sets a negative tone on my entire morning (“Word, says Mr. A“). I like to use the softest voice, kiss them all over their faces, tickle them, and to ensure they are awake I ask them questions like how they slept and if they missed me while they were sleeping… hahaha. I know it might sound silly but as a result they wake up calm and in good spirits with a positive attitude for the day ahead.
2. Ensure a healthy breakfast.
Ensure they have lots of energy for the morning’s work.
3. Pack brain fuel lunchboxes.
Always opt for healthy lunches that will keep them fuller and alert for longer instead of sugary snacks that will only provide temporary energy. A healthy lunch can be as simple as a P&J sandwich, a fruit and a bottle of water. I like to plan fun looking well presented healthy lunches but during the last half of the week/month when supplies run low this is a safe fallback for healthy lunchbox.
4. Ensure you are at least 10min earlier than the school bell.
Getting your children to school a few minutes early avoids the panic of rushing and allows them to calm their minds and mentally prepare for a day of learning. Give them time to say goodbye to you properly, greet and share a laugh with their friends and to collect themselves before the bell rings.
5. Make physical contact with your child when saying goodbye in the mornings.
Any physical touch like a kiss, a hug, a pat on the head or just placing your hand on their shoulder makes them feel more emotionally secure.
6. Send your child to school with a positive and message.
A simple comment like “I know you’re gonna have a great day today” does wonders for their attitude!
7. Trust the professional management of the school.
After saying goodbye, go on with your day without any anxiety, knowing that your child is in good hands.
8. Ensure that the school has your latest contact details.
We sometimes change an email address or a work contact number, it happens. Best to check annually that the details on file are correct and not find out AFTER an emergency that you were not contactable!
9. Stay in the loop by checking circulars and message books every evening.
Keep communication lines open between you and the teacher. There is nothing more embarrassing for your child than showing up at school the next day in full school uniform while the entire school is wearing civvies! Or not being prepared with a signed letter or permission slip. Children have enough to deal with at school, feeling like an outcast should not be one of them.
10. Make dinnertime a special time for the family.
Everyone should sit down and eat dinner at the same time. It’s also a good opportunity to reflect on each others day and to ask questions about your child’s day. If you hear something that you don’t like, don’t overreact, first find out the real story from the teacher.
11. Attend as many school events as you can.
Try to attend as many school events as you can manage throughout the school year like family games evening, fun runs, concerts, sport matches or recitals. Even though we are only a family of four, we all show up in full force at school events.
I remember last year during an athletics meet, my son was in the lead during a sprint for the very first time (he is uncoordinated like his Mom). Halfway across the field, he was so chuffed at the three of us cheering and going bananas for him from the sideline that he stopped running to wave and shout “Hi Mommy!“. Poor kid came last!
12. Have a set bedtime routine with a fixed bedtime.
I could talk a lot about this but I will do so in a future post. Routine makes a child feel in control and teaches responsibility. It is good practice to perform the same bedtime routine every night which results in a set bedtime. Your child knows what to expect and what is expected of them. A child’s behavior is directly linked to whether a child has had enough rest during the night. We want to ensure that they are able to cope with the long hours the next day.
I think that as parents we can only do our best especially since most of us also maintain a full-time work schedule. The most important thing is that we do the best that we can as our circumstances allow.
As Headmaster Steyl says: