My son started school this week. (Cue angel choir singing “Hallelujah!”) I have to admit—I am officially exhausted and ready for some good ol’ fashioned routine. Of course, along with the three R’s comes worry about the school year. Will there be tons of homework (and will I actually be able to help with 4th grade math)? Will Alex act out in class? He’ll be using the computer for assignments—do we need to set some parental controls now that he’s 9? And, my greatest fear: Bullying. It happened before…will it happen again?
With so many parents out there asking the same questions, we decided to do a blog round-up of some of our favorite back-to-school posts on the web. You’ll see advice ranging from “How to get your kid to talk at dinner” to help for start-of-school anxiety and, for parents of freshman college students, how to face the empty nest with as much grace and dignity as possible. (I recommend chocolate. Always.)
- Dealing with back-to-school anxiety? Susan at The Confident Mom has some concrete tips to help your child manage. One thing she cautions against: “Sometimes, parents can inadvertently ‘feed’ their child’s anxiety. If you are anxious about your child’s anxiety, it can make the situation worse. Try to be confident in your child’s ability to make it through the school day.” Amen. As Debbie Pincus says, “Anxiety is contagious.”
- Okay, I admit it. A part of me is a little sad that summer—and unlimited time with my son—is over. At putdowntheurinalcake.com, blogger and mother of five Beth talks about being a “Both/and” Mom—both glad and sorry that school has started.
- If you have a child with AD/HD, check out Dr. Kenny Handelman’s tips for parents in his article for HuffingtonPost called 6 Ways to Focus Your ADHD Child This September.
- Having a hard time getting your child to open up about his or her school day? Join the club. At dinner after the first day of school, my husband asked our son Alex how his day had gone. “Anything surprise you about fourth grade?”
Alex paused for a few seconds and then said, “Yes. The bathroom is a lot smaller than I thought it would be.”And that’s about all we got out of him. Luckily, Ooph.com has some great ideas for what blogger Stefanie calls “Table Talk”—in other words, the way she gets her kids to actually converse with her by asking “non-directed questions.” (Instead of “Do you have a boyfriend?” try, “What’s your favorite song right now?”)
- Concerns about child’s use of technology? At Commonsensemedia.org, ALL your questions about kids and technology are asked and answered in this post, including, “What’s the etiquette for emailing a teacher?” and “Should I let my kid bring his cell phone to school?”
- From the perspective of a mom who’s both stayed at home and worked during my son’s childhood, I love the great advice from Helloladies.com about what not to say to a working mom, including, “Do you have to work?” and “Don’t worry. Your child will be fine if you’re not there.” (Ouch!)
- And, along those same “What not to say” lines, read the 5 things you should never say to your kid’s teacher at Strollerderby on Babble.com. (Hint: Instead of demanding, “Why did you give my child this grade?” try, “What can my child do to bring his grade up?”)
- For advice on bullying prevention, Katherine Prudente’s advice on Pscyhcentral.com hit home in her post, Back to School and Back to Bullies? Not This Year! “If you see something, say something,” she suggests, taking the concept from posters on the New York subway, encouraging kids to speak out. Another tip: The key to changing the prevalence of bullying is to change the climate that makes it possible. (P.S. Another post by Katherine tells you how to stand up for your child at school if they are being bullied.)
- Helicopter, Snow Plow or Free Range Parent? The New York Times Motherlode blog recommends that parents stop doing one thing in order for their kids to do well in school.
- And finally, Karen Dawkins—over at the new site Bon Bon Break—offers sage advice to parents who have sent their newly-minted college students off to college for the first time. (With tips on how to “creatively fill the void left behind.”)
Hope you enjoy these posts as much as we did. We’d love to hear from you—tell us how the first few days (or weeks) of school have been for your family. Rough transition, or smooth take-off? Tell us what’s on your mind!
About Elisabeth Wilkins
Elisabeth Wilkins was the editor of Empowering Parents and the mother of an 10-year-old son. Her work has appeared in national and international publications, including Mothering, Motherhood (Singapore), Hausfrau, The Bad Mother Chronicles, and The Japan Times. Elisabeth holds a Masters in Fine Arts in Creative Writing from the University of Southern Maine.