There are a couple of things I want to do differently this year. Now is the time to decide what they are.
1. I will not let homework ruin our family evenings.
Life is too short to let homework ruin my relationship with my kids. If I had to bring home that much work from work, I wouldn’t be happy doing it either. My child is right. They’ve put in 6 or 7 hours at school. Why should they have to do another hour or two?
Show empathy. Don’t take the side of school. Be on your child’s side – literally. Many kids work better with an adult sitting beside them redirecting their focus. That’s OK. They haven’t developed “regulation of attention” for things they find boring. They will.
In case of emergency, download this tip sheet: Homework Tips for Extreme Non-Compliance
2. I will use this change of routine to change our family’s routine around screen time.
During the summer, I let a lot of things go. I forgive myself. With the new school year starting I have the chance to re-introduce some limits.
Researchers recommend a maximum of one hour for a single session of game play and a maximum of 2 hours of screen time for every 5 hours of free time. That might boil down to an hour before dinner and an hour after dinner. Homework must be done first. No screens a half hour before bedtime. No screens in bed. Be firm, fair and consistent. Discuss these limits at a family meeting (dinner) before school starts,
Download this template which I’ve posted previously. Video Game Schedule. Edit it to suit your own situation and post it on the fridge door.
3. I will keep the spirit of summer alive.
Why does going back to school mean not having any more fun? Life doesn’t need to be binge and purge. Let’s have some kind of fun every day – however small! We still have our weekends. Every weekend I will do something fun with my kids and something I enjoy myself – however small!
Adults talk about having a healthy work-life balance. Kids need a healthy school-life balance. For children, life means play – and play doesn’t have to just mean screen time. It can also mean getting outdoors. Fall is a great time for hiking or biking local trails. Google “trails in your town.”
4. I will not let school define my child.
I will not let test marks, report cards or teacher comments make me think my child is somehow a failure or I am somehow a failure. My child is not a “student” to me. This is my baby. I love him no matter what. There is no judgement school could pass on him that would make me love him any less. He is perfect. School measures people with marks and “comments.” I only have one way of measuring my child – by how much I love him.
I work with many kids who have been “labelled.” There is nothing wrong with having a child’s cognitive exceptionality identified, but no label or assessment can sum up a child’s nature. All children are gifted with a unique nature. Honour the nature of your child.