School Daze

14 Aug

Letterbalm Back to SchoolDear LetterBalm: Every year my family goes through this, and every year I go crazy. We’re thoroughly immersed in summer – camp, vacation, barbecues, backyard camping, local pool – and school is suddenly looming. I can never get my kids onto a school schedule until October. They regress. Moaning and groaning. No cleaned rooms, no going to bed and getting up on time, no dirty laundry in the hamper, and getting them to do chores is World War III. What can I do to reboot them from summer to school?

–Hoarse from Yelling

This is the right time to start re-training your brood for school. Ms. L.B. loved school and looked forward to the first day in a new class, but she sympathizes with those who are reluctant students. Call a family meeting to talk about the school year. Acknowledge that everyone – including Mom and Dad – loves the lazy days of summer, but they don’t last forever. Remind each of your kids that they are a year older. Discuss chores, responsibilities, curfews and privileges and what should be upgraded along these lines. Tell them you expect these new rules to kick in immediately – they need to adopt a school schedule now. (Discuss allowances separately and privately.)  Ask each child what two things he or she wants to accomplish in the coming school year. Go to the state debating finals? Have his own art exhibition at the local library? Build a functioning robot? Intern at the local historical society? This aligns you and your children with their interests and their achievable goals at school. Here’s a sampling:

Kids, your dad and I have called this family meeting to review things for the coming school year. We’ve decided to have this meeting every year before school starts. We know summer is wonderful, but now it’s time for school behavior to kick in. You’re a year older, and we all need to discuss chores, responsibilities, curfews and privileges because some of them may have changed. Your father and I also want each of you to think about two things you want to accomplish during the coming year and how school can help you accomplish them. These are your personal goals, and we know you’ll be mature about this.

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