5 Tips for Navigating Back to School

If your kids haven't headed back to school yet, chances are they will be soon. And as always a new school year brings with it a whole new batch of challenges in the mission to raise strong healthy, happy SheHeroes and Heroes. We talk a lot about how difficult toy companies; magazines and television can make raising our children in a fair and gender balanced world. But nothing can prepare us for what our kids may sometimes face on the playground at school.

So here are a few tips to help you prepare for the coming challenges of a new school year.

  1. Volunteer – Though this isn’t an option for everyone, if you are able to somehow volunteer at your child’s school, whether it’s once a week or just at special events, you should. Volunteering at school helps you get to know the staff, teachers, other parents and most importantly the other kids in your child’s school. By spending some time at the school you become more aware of playground politics and who’s who on campus. This can go a long way in helping prevent or deal with issues your child may have later on.
  2. Make Friends – No matter how often you volunteer you can never really know 100% what’s going on while your child is without you at school. Whether they’re being bullied or having trouble making friends or dealing with any number of issues that can occur on the playground. Sometimes dealing with these issues on their own is part of growing up, but it’s hard to know when a problem is going to pass the point that they can deal with it on their own. That’s why it’s so important to have other parent friends. Parents you trust will come to you if they notice anything on the playground you might need to be aware of. Even if there are issues that don’t directly effect your child, it’s nice to know what’s going on around campus. And it never hurts to know there are other parents looking out for your child when you’re not there. Just as you should always be keeping an eye out on your child’s friends as well. Raising children really does take a village, and in this modern age your village should be your neighborhood and the school your child attends.
  3. Stay Hip – OK, so you don’t exactly have to "stay hip", but it is helpful to take the time to watch the shows your kids are watching and listen to the music they are listening too. It's important what kind of pop culture trends your child is being exposed to, so you can put a stop to the negative ones as soon as they come up. Or start a dialogue when something doesn't sit right with you. It’s also important to try and keep a handle on where your child is coming from when dealing with you, school and friends. Keeping an open mind when it comes to things they like will help give you that handle.
  4. Communicate with Teachers – Always make it a point to take a few minutes at Back to School night to chat with your child’s teacher. The teacher will be the most vital link you have to how well your child is doing academically during the school year, and if problems arise your child’s teacher will be your biggest ally in taking care of it. Don’t be obsessive, but feel free to find out where the teacher stands on issues of homework, reading, bullying and other things that are important to you. And don’t be afraid to send check in emails every so often to keep those communication lines open. You don’t have to wait for conferences to ask questions.
  5. Keep the Communication Lines Open with Your Child – This is the single most important thing you can do with your child. Make it a point to talk about your child’s day each and every day. At our house we always sit down to a family dinner and share the best and worst thing that happened to us that day. It was via those daily chats that we found out our son was being bullied by some kids in his class a few years back. If chatting about the small incidental stuff becomes a daily habit with you and your child, it will make it that much easier for your child to come to you when they have something serious to share. So always listen to the playground gossip or the blow by blow of how they made potato clocks in science.

By being involved with your child and maintaining an open line of communication, you'll find you'll have all the tools you need to help your SheHero overcome any obstacles she may face on the playground. What are some of the things you do in your house to help you manage the worries of the school year?

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