Autumn is Around the Corner...
This has been an epic summer in the Northwest. We have seen the light! We have had many warm, sunny days! It didn’t even rain on the fourth of July this year! What more can we ask for?
But even so, kids start to tire of all of this free, unstructured time. It’s more difficult to connect with friends who may be on vacation when they are home. School is the daily social meeting ground of childhood and adolescence. When school is out, kids can get lonely and yes, bored.
They get grumpy. They ramp up sibling conflict. Fights over television shows, game time, or even who gets to sit in Mom’s easy chair start to boil over. August is a good time to plan structured activities, long weekends, or trips. Try to keep them busy when you are home—trips to the zoo, the beach, or to local fairs.
Some of this crankiness is inevitable, no matter how many activities and events you sprinkle through the long summer vacation. Ten weeks is a long time to be off from school. Finally, back to school sales herald the new school year.
This is a good time to plan ahead and help your youngster establish some goals for the new school year. It is a good time for you to do the same. What changes do you want to make this new school year? Is there anything that you want to do differently? What about your kids? What do you want them to focus on?
It’s good to take some time out to consider these issues before the school year begins. I know there were many times that I wanted to cut back on some of the kid’s activities. At times I felt that they were overscheduled during the school year, and didn’t have enough free time. Frequently, we decided to cut back on TV time (we never did let our youngest have video games). We often wanted to add more physical activity into both theirs and our schedule. Many children and adults don’t have enough physical activity.
We frequently struggled with how to keep our house organized, the laundry done, and family meals in place. We wanted our kids to have a healthy diet, but take out pizza found its way to our table more often than we would have liked. Every year we tried some new ideas for accomplishing those goals. Sometimes we took two steps forward, and three steps back! Modern life can be so hectic. Mary has soccer, Bill has piano, and Jackie has girl scouts. And Mom is burning up the gasoline! This is a good time to make those “new year” resolutions!
It’s also an excellent time to help your kids establish their personal goals for school or sports. What do they want to accomplish? What do they want to change from last year? What do they think worked well that they would like to continue in the New Year?
Help them establish realistic expectations. A “C” student is unlikely to become an A student---how about getting B’s this year? A kid that is always late to school isn’t going to get to school on time every day. Set reasonable expectations.
Help your kids develop a plan to accomplish their goals. Bumping up a grade is not going to happen just because I want it to happen. I have to change my behavior in some way. Help them establish a reasonable plan. How about adding a dedicated homework time and lengthen the amount of time allocated for schoolwork.
Post everyone’s goals and plan of action in a prominent location. Refrigerator doors, bathroom mirrors, bedroom walls, or on a bulletin board are good spots. That will help everyone remember what’s important.
What are your goals for this new school year?