Back to school tips parents can use to help their child start the new school year off strong!
By: Oliver Crandon
Every parent launches their child into the new school year with expectations of success. However, this upcoming school year is unlike any other. As cited on CNBC.com, a report by Horace Mann revealed:
“After a year of school closings and distance learning amid the coronavirus crisis, more than half of public school K-12 teachers said the pandemic resulted in a ‘significant’ learning loss for students, both academically and from a social-emotional standpoint.”
As parents, as much as we desire to successfully launch our children into the 2021-2022 school year, the numbers are saying, “Houston, we have a problem!” Thankfully, for every problem, there is a parent. Here are three ways you can help your child thrive this school year:
#1 – Look through the Windshield, not the Rear-View Mirror
If you have a teenager who drives, or a “tweenager” who will be driving someday in the near future, a very important lesson they learn is to keep their eyes forward. Occasionally looking in the rear-view mirror is a must; however, continuing to do so while driving forward would be dangerous.
The Horace Mann report also found,
“Nearly all — more than 97% — of educators reported seeing some learning loss in their students over the past year when compared with children in previous years, and a majority, or 57%, estimated their students are behind by more than three months in their-social-emotional progress.”
That’s unbelievable! So as parents, how do we accept this reality for this young generation, and help them grow from it? The answer: We view the year 2020 as the rear-view mirror, and we look forward through the windshield!
We must teach our children to look back at history in order for us as a human race to learn and grow from adversity and hardship. However, it is vital to also teach them not to live in or dwell on the past, and encourage them to be present and look forward to the future.
Try this exercise: Have a conversation with your child about the past few months – What is the difference between now and then? Focus on highlighting the points that represent growth, and how far they have come. This will reinforce their resilience and the resilience of their support systems (i.e. family, friends, and community) and how taking time to reflect is a healthy exercise that can help them move forward.
Another great resource you can reference is a post by UC Davis Health, “Done with COVID-19? 9 ways to help cope with COVID fatigue”. It too discusses the “windshield perspective,” and how it can be a powerful springboard to launch kids into an amazing school year.
#2 – Develop S.M.A.R.T. Goals
WW1 Pilot Eddie Rickenbacker once said, “I can give you a six-word formula for success: Think things through – then follow through.” As a pilot, assessing and taking action was vital for Rickenbacker’s survival. For us parents, assessing and taking action is vital for our children to thrive.
With the busyness of school, activities, and homework on the horizon, consider developing S.M.A.R.T. goals with your child for the school year:
- Specific – What will be accomplished? What actions will you take?
- Measurable – What numbers or data will measure the goal? How much? How well?
- Attainable – Is the goal doable?
- Relevant – Why is the result important?
- Timely – What is the time frame for accomplishing the goal?
What are 1-2 major goals you can help your child set for the year? What about 3-4 minor goals? Developing a plan for success with grades, extracurricular activities, friendships, etc. is applying the “thinking through” process, but making them S.M.A.R.T. is the “following through” component. Getting essay writing help also can really help you make a solid plan to succeed. American author, salesman and motivational speaker Zig Ziglar would often say,
“If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time.”
Meaning if one has a plan, and a mission to accomplish, then there is a target to aim for; however, aiming at nothing means you have no idea whether you hit it or not. Helping your child to define goals that are S.M.A.R.T. will help them to ultimately and frequently achieve those goals.
#3 – Helping Yourself Helps Them
Many people joke about being “Mom of the Year,” or “Dad of the Year.” Being a parent during this pandemic, I would propose that there’s merit to those sentiments! It has been an unprecedented year and a half; you’ve done your best to provide and protect; to be a counselor and teacher, a parent and friend. YOU deserve an award and recognition, and we celebrate you! Though it hasn’t been easy, you did it, and are continuing to push through! Remember to take time and celebrate yourself.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,
“The mental health of children is connected to their parent’s mental health.”
Taking care of yourself is also vital in helping them. Here are some areas of self-care to consider:
- Intellectually: Why not begin to learn something you’ve always desired to?
- Emotionally: Intentionally plan activities that fill your tank.
- Environmentally: Plan some “earthing days.” Tri-City Medical Center posted how the sun positively impacts your mental and physical health
- Physically: Is there a fitness activity that you and your family can enjoy?
- Spiritually: If you are a spiritual person, doing something to enhance that part of your life can bring fulfillment.
- Financially: Having achievable financial goals can be motivating and helpful in reducing stress.
In conclusion, as you help your child to have an amazing year, we also encourage you to have one as well. Last school year presented some unique challenges, and this year will undoubtedly have challenges of its own. Just remember: for every problem, there’s a parent!
We are cheering you on here at Just Say YES as you help your child thrive this school year!