With the first day of school just around the corner, I’ve designed a simple plan for your tween and you. It will make the transition back to school as easy as it is smooth. You’ll both benefit from the division of labor and collaborating. You can start today.
For Your Tween
Dress code: Have your child look online at the school’s dress code policy and tell you what’s okay and not okay to wear to school. Shoes, sleeve length, short/skirt length, baggie pants, words on shirts, tattoos, jewelry, athletic shorts, etc. Being the expert is great for her and ensures you bring home approved school clothes from your shopping trip. You have questions? Ask her.
Bus route and school hours: School hours, the bus pickup and drop off times, and the route determine your child’s schedule. Ask him to look up this information online. Ask him to tell you or show you what he’s found. It’s a perfect way for him to buy into his daily schedule. And fewer clicks for you.
Bed time: Adjusting to a school-year bedtime takes a while. Collaborate with your child to set her bedtime and a gradual “get there” plan. You’ll get less push back when she is part of the decision making process. And she’ll be rested when that first day of school arrives.
Grades: Sit with your child and together set a specific grade goal for each subject. All As, Bs or better or passing is too vague. Reaching agreed upon expectations are targets he’s likely to hit. He’ll gain confidence from working hard and being responsible.
Schedule: Once your child has picked up her schedule, have her go to each teacher’s website to learn more. Ask your child to tell you her takeaways. This will make the first day of school easier. And you’ll get to know what she’s thinking and feeling.
Lunch: If your child is like mine, waiting in the cafeteria lunch line is not desirable. Have him plan and make his own lunch. He can look at the weekly sales flier, plan healthy foods, and go to the store with you. You’ll have fun together. And the two of you can decide if he’ll be making his lunch at night or in the morning.
All that paperwork: Go on line, if possible, and complete all the new school year forms ASAP. I know it’s no fun to enter the same data over and over, but checking it off your to-do list early makes your life easier. And school will be better for your child because she won’t bring a note home that you didn’t do it or worse, that she can’t participate in something due to incomplete forms. (Don’t forget to get your child’s physical form turned in for Athletics/Sports participation.)
You’re back to school, too: While you are committed to readying your child, get yourself mentally prepared, too. Your positive attitude will rub off. If you’re scared about your child moving to a new school or middle school for the first time, don’t let it show: she is on target. Let her know you believe in her and her success. She’s got this!
The helicopter: To help you keep the black hawk in the hangar, talk with your child about his plan for loading his backpack each night. I give my kids two helicopter passes a year. If I am available, twice a year I will deliver something they forgot. When the two cards have been used and the times I’m unavailable, natural consequences kick in. (I don’t jeopardize my job to accommodate their mistake: middle school is a great time to learn responsibility and paying attention to details.)
First day of school: If your child is going to ride the bus to school, have her ride it on the first day of school. Yes, driving your child to school on the first day is a time honored tradition for many. Just as you want your child to have a great first day, schools share that goal. A crowded parent loop and parents having extended goodbyes in the hallways delay starting school on time. About breakfast… don’t serve a ‘Top Chef’ breakfast on the first day. Have available whatever she will be eating most school mornings. As she heads out the door, don’t forget that hug or kiss on the cheek and your bright smile with, “I love you, you’ll have a great year!” Repeat every morning.
Following this plan will ensure your tween and you are set for a great year. You will have empowered your child, collaborated on expectations, and taken care of all the details on your end. Here’s to your best school year ever!
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About JoAnn Schauf
JoAnn Schauf helped thousands of students, parents and families as a middle, high and college counselor for twenty years. Today she empowers parents of tweens and teens to be stronger leaders and relationship builders in her parent workshops, coaching parents one-on-one, and running the website YourTweenAndYou.com. Schauf is a consultant to school districts, is a radio commentator, and contributes to print and online publications. What makes her proudest is that her own four kids are each other’s biggest cheerleaders. She and her family live in Coppell, Texas with Elmer, their Black Lab.