By Christina Forgeron, Columnist
I am a school nerd. New scribblers fill me with joy, so much hope and potential packed between every line and, of course, that nostalgic smell! Scratch ‘n sniff should create a “Hilroy Scribbler” sticker line, which would smell like a storage unit, look like a notebook, and come in green, blue, pink, and yellow…after a year of owning the sticker, its smell would morph to sour milk and lunch leftovers. Sadly, I recognize that my nerdy love for all things school is a bit over the top for my Grade Four student. My Staples is his Sweet Jane’s (local candy store) – stationary is my eye candy, not his. My son thinks of soccer and friends and recess as the proverbial school bell rings, but as long as he is looking forward to walking through those big doors, I am happy. In addition to the pencils and Hilroys, there are some conversations that are helpful to have at the start of the school year. They do not have to be formal sit-downs – the idea is to get our children talking so their year begins with intention and self-assurance.
• Goal setting – Great chat for the dinner table, bedtime chat or a long car ride. What are you working on this year? Being a better basketball player? Raising money for a local cause? Grade 2 Royal Conservatory piano? Reading more? What ideas do you have that will help you accomplish your goal? Talking about two or three of these goals in September as well as throughout the year keeps them front of mind and more easily attainable. My challenge is staying out of the way so that they remain HIS goal and not mine.
• Sleep – To be at their best, students need sleep. According to Suresh Kotagal, M.D., a pediatric neurologist at Mayo Clinic, if you set a consistent wake-up time in late August and keep it steady (even on weekends), the bedtime will take care of itself. Stay tuned…more on sleep later in the year.
• Ownership and Balance – When it comes to after school activities, giving kids ownership over their busy schedules promotes commitment. We usually begin to discuss activity options in early August and make decisions by the end of August. Decision making strategies can be developed through this process. There is a lot to be gained by dropping by, with your child, to an actual location of an activity prior to making decisions. You will quickly understand the level of organization and quality of programming.
• Practice – To get better at anything, be it math, reading, spelling, music, judo, algebra, writing, or ping pong, practice is required. It is non-negotiable. Practice builds confidence, self-esteem, academic success, and expertise. Make it matter!
• Friendships – The dynamics of childhood friendships can tax a household throughout the school year. It can also make the school year special. Focussing on keeping friends, rather than just making them, is a great framework for developing meaningful and/or lifelong relationships. What are the qualities of a good friend? September is a great time to discuss this as a family and share perspectives.
I hope you and your family have a wonderful start to the school year! Stay Bolstered!