To School

To School August 7, 2013

As you may already know, two of my children will be going to school outside of our home this fall.  I have been laughing as I think that they are not going “back to school” in September, but rather “to school” for the first time at ages 10 and 11.

I’d like to know what advice you have for me – not for them this time, though I may ask for that later, as I adjust to being a school parent.  I am particularly unsure about morning routine, homework negotiations, adjusting to a new culture and relating to teachers/other parents without being a total helicopter freak.



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  • Kathleen

    I’ll give advice that I don’t always follow, but when I do things run far better. Get everything ready the night before. Make sure lunches are packed, school bags and homework are by the door, makes sure they already know where there school shoes and uniform that evening. We’ve been tardy several times because someone couldn’t find a shoe or their homework.

    The other piece of advice is make sure you have some easy high protein breakfast. I realized when I stopped homeschooling my oldest that big egg and bacon breakfasts on a weekday are a thing of the past. I like those greek yogurt tubes.

    BEst of luck!

  • Patty

    Ditto to the prior commenter. I sent my first child to school in fifth grade, six years ago. He is a junior now. Boy, that went fast! As far as being too helicopter-y, I say follow your children’s leads. I thought my son would want more support than he did. As it turned out my biggest role when he went to school was to get out of the way. He did want or need me at all! Very rarely did he ask for homework help, etc. best of luck to you!

  • Juris Mater

    Don’t except school to be a break/built-in childcare/unloading two of your kids so they’re out of the daytime equation. It changes your daily routine, forces your weekend calendar, requires volunteerism and homework involvement and negotiating social interactions with a new set of families so your kids fit in comfortably. It’s not a giving up, but a taking on, of a new set of responsibilities. Good to prepare mentally for that in advance. It still feels overwhelming to me at times, with 2 at home and 3 in school.

  • Lucy

    On the subject of volunteering at school. For me, it’s been important to give myself permission to keep my involvement pretty limited. I have volunteered in my kids’ classrooms when it has worked with my schedule because that’s fun for me, but there have been years when that just wasn’t possible (when I’ve had a toddler at home or a full-time job, for example). I’ve decided that sending snacks and supplies for class parties and teacher appreciation things is something I can easily do, so I do those things. But at least during this season of my life, I just can’t be a room mother or a big fundraising project coordinator. Luckily, there seem to be lots of parents who are really eager to do those things at our schools, so it’s also a chance to graciously let other people serve where they are called.

  • Bethany

    MA, your kids will thrive and so will you! I’ll venture to say the greatest challenge for you will be feeling like you have feet in two different worlds. Set the bar low as far as your expectations go as to what you’ll be able to contribute on the parent front (i.e. volunteerism, etc. as the girls mentioned). Be ready for fatigue as your kids adjust to the longer school day. Be ready to manage the after-school hours. I still haven’t come up with a good system for down time vs. homework vs. extracurriculars. There are just not enough minutes in the day! I would prefer my kids accomplishing homework right when they get home, but I’m realistic in knowing they’ve just gone through a full day of school and need a mental break. Perhaps since your two are older, you can sit down with them and have THEM make up an after-school schedule so that they have good personal buy-in. Schools are using planners regularly and you should set up a system with them to check their planner every night. If they start missing assignments (which I’m sure they won’t!), you could work with the teacher to make sure all the work they need to do gets written down and initialed by the teacher every day. One last comment: teachers are MUCH more widely accessible these days through email. If you have a concern about your child, want feedback, or have a question about an assignment, you’ll have a much easier time getting an answer and being in touch with the teacher through the internet. I have found that to be solace for my parent soul. I forgot to pack my son’s snack one day last year and was able to get word to him through the teacher’s email that it was on its way. Blessings to you all! It will be great!

  • Kat0427

    Bethany, I agree! One of the hardest parts of having children in school is feeling like my time and energy is split between different communities.
    MA, you’ll figure out your level of involvement as you get a feel for the parent community at your children’s schools. Although it is probably wise not to jump in with two feet right away, I will say that volunteering is one of the best ways to meet other parents and to be “in the know” about what is going on in the school. However, choose wisely – as one commenter said, you don’t want to be chairing the school’s biggest fundraiser in your first year at the school!

  • I have only had one in pre-school while the rest where homeschooled, but I found the biggest challenge to be balancing both a school schedule and a home school schedule. It is hard to have feet in both worlds.

  • Another thought, again from someone who has never done what you are about to do 😉 — perhaps you should set aside some extra time in the first two weeks to help your oldest establish good routines. After that, I bet you can just get out of the way 😉