Surviving Back to School

For our third post, we are looking at that great time of year: back to school! Hope you enjoy it:

School. Just the word conjures up memories both good and bad.  Val and I met in high school. I remember classes, friends, and favorite teachers.  I can still picture the spots in our town where we would hang out on Saturday afternoons without a care in the world but when we could steal the next kiss. I remember back even more to riding my bike around the block, playing street hockey with friends, and going to Allen’s Variety Store to buy penny candy and load up a paper bag with two quarter’s worth of Cry Babies. I remember football games on Friday nights, walking the track around the field while the band played and the smells of woodsmoke and hot chocolate drifted on the air.


I remember being picked on.

When Carter started school, my anxieties kicked in. I prayed he made friends with nice kids. He has a great heart and I wanted to protect him as much as possible.  The first day was so hard for me and emotional for all of us.  I still have the picture on my phone that I took of him sitting in the lobby of the school, lunch box in hand and nervous smile on his face. Somehow, by the end of the year, we all survived.  Now he goes back in one week.  For those of you in our boat or facing your first school year, here’s some ideas how to make it a smooth transition:

1/Organize: You will get a mountain of papers from the teachers, the school, and the district.  Keep things separated and make a space for them in your house. Some papers will need to be returned, others will need to be returned later.  You’ll be surprised how many ways a school can demand your money.  All of these things will come via the mail or your child’s backpack. Keep them under control.

2/Communicate: You will also be amazed at how many ways the school will want and need to contact you.  Our district does automated messages on our home phone. You are required to call to explain any changes in arrival or pickup time.  This is understandable for security purposes but can be so easily forgotten. I’ve exchanged emails with Carter’s teacher, guidance counselor, and principal before and we were encouraged to do so.  Use it whenever possible and make sure to keep an open line of dialogue going with the school. Be nice to the office workers.  They are the gate keepers for a variety of your needs.

3/ Pray: The year will bring challenges on a realm of fronts.  Your child will have homework, social events, and sports.  They will be forced to make choices that, for some, will be made the first time without your input standing at their shoulder.  Talk to them about their day and, if you hear any hints of anxiety or concern, bring them up in prayer. Pray for the school and the teachers.  This will unify you as a family and offer comfort to your child as they think about the next day.  Remember, their issues may be small to you but look like mountains to them.

School changes lives.  You will notice a difference after the first week, month, and year. As you proceed, do what you can to make it easy on your son or daughter.  They will thank you for it and your model will serve as inspiration in the years to come. I know I’ll still get emotional next week as Carter goes back to school. They grow up way too fast.  Make the most of your time, record video, take pictures, save the memories. When they graduate, show them the pictures and celebrate their accomplishments.

When they go back for day one and you go home, take a deep breath and enjoy some free time. You deserve it!

~Matt and Val


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