How much time after that was spent looking at everyone else's "first day of school" photos on Facebook is classified.
As I'm sitting in my office in a quiet house for the first time in WAY too long, I wanted to share some thoughts on all of our children's first days of school, and what I hope we can all do for them this coming school year.
1. Let them be quirky. All of our kids are different, and that is what makes them who they are. My 9 year old is so excited to have on his new Under Armour shoes we bought for school, that are (of course) blue and neon orange. No one does neon better than UA, and my kids live it it. I hope that soon all of his classmates will know him as the kid who is always in the awesomely bright clothes, and that he is equally awesome.
2. Let them be nervous. School is an amazing, fun, chaotic, routine yet constantly changing, stressful, worrying, incredibly nerve-wracking place. New teachers who are then replaced with substitute teachers sometimes, bullies, mean girls, obnoxious boys, and even mean boys and obnoxious girls. When the classwork gets confusing and they are worried about going back the next day, let them know that it's okay to be nervous. They have to go back, and they can and will learn that they are capable of going back and shining, even through the nerves. Being nervous isn't wrong.
3. Let them have new friends. Every year my kids make new friends, and I love watching them cultivate those relationships while folding them into their old friendships. Even at their new school, my boys already know lots of people there. I told my oldest this morning that he should make it a goal today to get to know better the girl we met at the "meet your teacher" even on Friday. Tomorrow, it may be someone else he wants to hang out with, and that's okay. But as parents we should encourage our children to meet someone knew. Not only will they make a new friend, but by introducing that new friend to their old friends, everyone's circle grows.
4. Let them not be friends with everyone. This isn't contradictory to #3. Just like adults, there are some jerk kids out there. Some of you, especially those who don't have children, may think that I am just being mean and that is an awful thing to say about a child. Those of you who have children know how true that statement is. As a mother, I have done everything I can to teach my boys not only how to not be that kid, but also how to spot that kid. That isn't about teaching them to be judgmental, it really isn't. It's about teaching them to recognize behavior that isn't acceptable, and making good choices as to who to hang out with on the playground. Now, it's also about teaching them that they shouldn't be rude to anyone, but its is okay not to be friends with everyone. I personally think that is one of the most important skills I can teach my children- knowing who to spend time with and who to avoid.
5. Let them be kids. Many of us know what the term "fall chaos" means. Homework gears back up, fall sports seasons are beginning, Back to School Nights, all of it can make our brains spin until we get into a rhythm. As our routines fall into place, we need to still let our free spirited kids keep some of that summer mindset. Let that rhythm include time to play outside. Unstructured time doesn't mean unproductive time. As parents trying to navigate the fall chaos, it's easy to try to plan out each and every hour of every day just to feel like we have some element of control over the crazy. The crazy will come either way, so you might as well enjoy it. Yes, we need to make sure the homework gets completed, but sometimes telling them they can ride their scooters for 10 minutes before starting their assignments will help them actually enjoy the homework instead of hating it.
I hope more than anything else that they enjoy the next school year.
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