When I was a single mom, I’m not sure who had more apprehension about the new school year: Jason and Sara, or me? Maybe it was me. Perhaps it was because I dreaded “Back to School Night” where the parents met the teacher. The hard part was strolling the halls as a single mom while watching all the other “mommy and daddy families” having a grand ol’ time. And on some occasions, the children’s dad would show up at the back to school functions. Though the kids loved having him there, it only magnified my sadness that my family felt incomplete. But discomfort didn’t matter. As the mom, I had a job to do and that was to lay the ground work for the children to have a fantastic year.
Friends, with the last weeks of summer already here, it’s time to get started. What can we do as moms to make the changeover from summer to school a pleasant transition? Have you thought about these?
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1. Encourage your child to bond with the teacher.
Work to get your son or daughter connected with their teacher before school starts. No, we can’t all be running up to the school, ‘Hello, this is MY child,’ but we can build their self-confidence. “When you’re in Mrs. Smith’s class, I bet she’ll be impressed with what a great listener are.” Or “Why don’t you draw your hobby for Mrs. Smith and give it to her on the first day of school.” Find a photograph of Mrs. Smith; tape it on your refrigerator. Pray for her and the class. And on another note, if your child cries the entire first week of school because the teacher has not connected, don’t hesitate to visit politely with the teacher. I’ll never forget as a former teacher when a parent told me I’d made her child cry all week. I HAD NO IDEA! Trust me; I wanted my students to be well-adjusted. Sometimes firm teachers can send the wrong message and most educators will “soften the blow” and fix the situation. (On a personal note, I must have gotten that strictness idea from my mother. She was a teacher, too.)
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2. Nighty Night - get the kids back on an early bed schedule.
Don’t wait till school starts to get your kiddoes back on a healthy sleep schedule. Breaking them in cold turkey is not a good idea. Don’t you remember how jittery you were the night before school started? I dreamed half the night of who would be in my class and if the teacher was going to give a lot of homework. At least give your child the benefit of getting a good night’s rest. Most kids stay up late in the summer months. But kids need 9 1/2 to 11 hours of sleep a night, depending on their age (teens need a minimum of 9.5; toddlers usually do best with 11). Getting them back on schedule so they’re sound asleep by 9pm to be up at 7am for school takes a couple of weeks of gradually moving the bedtime earlier. So mark your calendar and start moving bedtime a bit earlier every night by having kids read in bed for an hour before lights out.
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3. Role-play the first day of school.
This is especially important if your child is in the lower elementary grades. I remember acting out what our back to school morning would look like from the time they got up to the time I dropped them off at school: they’d wake up, make their beds, eat a play-like breakfast, with me actually driving them to school and saying goodbye. It was vital for them to see what it was going to feel like with me letting them “go it alone.” It’s wise to develop a routine that’s familiar: laying out clothes the night before, helping pack their lunch, feeding the dog on the way out the door. My morning routine was handing the children an imaginary blessing before they got out of the car at school. It was fun and built a sense of family. I remember the day Jason came running back to the car after I had dropped him off at school. Surely he had forgotten his lunch or something VERY important… “Mommy, Mommy, you forgot to give me my blessing!” Seriously? Bless his little heart. What a great reminder: kids love a routine!
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Moms, it’s time to get moving, and above all remember, these are precious days and yes, you might be a single parent but you are NOT doing it alone. God is with you. Blessings for a super-duper school year.
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Publication date: August 7, 2014