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Entries in School (3)


After School Activities

One question parents sometimes grapple with is “should the kids be encouraged to participate in after school events.”  With the exception of detentions, the answer is YES.

Let’s first define “after school” events.  These can be clubs, sports, band/music/plays…anything organized.

School is about learning more than reading, writing and arithmetic.  School also plays a role in learning social skills (after all, we all know “All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten.”)  When participating with others, social skills are developed.

“Sports” are just one way to learn how to be on a team.  Putting on a play is a team effort.  A band wouldn’t sound good if not playing together.

Sometimes the student finds it difficult to coordinate varied activities.  We think this is an area where parents can help by being supportive and not directive.  If a student gets overwhelmed, let them know their options…and don’t make the decision for them.   What better way for the student to learn how to recognize “overwhelmed” and learn to prioritize.  (We do know some students end up in very bad places if there is no relief to the feeling of overwhelmed…this is why parents must be aware (and not helicopters.))

Parents are sometimes worried their students may get hurt playing a sport.  We certainly don’t advocate getting hurt.  We do advocate organized school sports where there are coaches and guidelines followed.

Overall, it really doesn’t matter what the child participates in as long as they participate.  Students tend not to “play” anymore. Going home daily and playing video games isn’t healthy.

So encourage your child to participate in group activities.  With the array of items offered in schools (often numbering over 100) there’s a good chance there is an activity for your child.

What are your thoughts on after school activities?


First Day of School

Everything changes on the first day of school. 

Summer ends, fall begins and structure returns instantly.

Parents need to prepare for the first day of school.  Parents need to make sure they are home and not tied up late in the office.

Make sure you can serve a meal at home, which in many houses forces the children to the table.

Listen to the events of the first day, and don’t immediately react.  Take them in:

  • “Bad” teachers are often tough teachers who, to me, are often the best teachers.
  • Who sat with whom at lunch is interesting, and I never read much into it.  What I wanted to hear is the children were socializing with others.  Socialization is such an important lesson at school.
  • Encourage extracurricular activities like clubs, sports, music, art or other activities.  Ultimately these activities help round out the child.

If the child withdraws, there may be something else in play.  Spend time with them.

Fill out all the paperwork for school.  Sadly, schools still seem to do this with paper, and almost every class does their own.  It can be a daunting amount of paperwork.  As time went on, I got pretty comfortable using a return address label or sticker.  As the kids got older they were adept at completing for me.

Make note of some of the dates:

  • School Pictures - The annual school pictures were important, and I wanted to note the date so I could make sure everyone had a haircut!
  • Open houses – Make a point of going to the open house and meeting all the teachers.  Plan ahead.
  • Days off/vacations – this was important for arranging day care
  • Test dates – Big tests were noted

Most teachers seem to start off with homework, so it’s a good time to enforce doing homework.  Yes this can be hard.  Yes, this can be uncomfortable, particularly if there is a pattern of not doing homework in the past.  What better time to send the message of doing homework?

Drivers should also remember traffic patterns change, too.  School busses are slowing things down, and everyone is back…clogging roads.  Plan extra time for your driving activities.

What do you do to make the first day of school “special?”


School's Out for Summer!

It’s the time of year in New England where schools are closing and the kids are coming home for the summer.


In my view, it’s one of the best times with children.  It’s all about a relaxed schedule:

  • While homework is important, and a major part of a child’s education, getting homework completed can be challenging.  Some kids just won’t to homework, creating mini-Chernobyl discussions around the house.  At other times, the sheer volume of homework is excessive.  Most of the time the homework load is reasonable, an hour or two a day.  Toss in a couple projects, and homework time can swell.
  • Getting kids out the door in the morning often takes on a different pace.  While there are often commitments, it always seems a little less frantic than during the school year.
  • Spending time with kids  In the summer, the homework time can be replaced with parent time.  Playing catch in the yard, watching baseball on TV or in person, making BBQ together (especially corn on the cob)…it’s all special times.
  • Bed time – bed times are often pushed out, giving more family time
  • Home projects – home projects can be fun with the assistance of children.  Not massive projects, just little ones.  Like planting a section of flowers, or re-decking a deck.  I never found a deck painting/staining effort an older child couldn’t help with (with supervision.)  It helps the child learn a sense of responsibility and share an accomplishment.


All in all, summer with children can be fabulous.  Enjoy!!

What do you do with children in the summer you find special?