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Thoughtful Parenting: Get children ready for start of school

Whitney Bakarich/For Steamboat Pilot & Today

It is August, and in a few short weeks, Routt County students will start a new academic year. Before getting back into the school routine, it’s worth taking stock of the previous year. Take a minute to thoughtfully consider what worked, what didn’t, what is important and develop a game plan.

The following 10 questions are for parents who have children of many ages.

  • Can you have dinner together? Between busy parents and busy kids, it may seem impossible to all be around a table. One option is to meal plan. Involve your kids because everyone needs to have skills in the kitchen.
  • Does your child have a place to do homework that is distraction free? The last few weeks of summer could be dedicated to creating a new spot in the home for homework. Doing homework in front of the TV is not good for concentration, and doing homework in bed is not good for sleep.
  • What is the bedtime routine? Does your toddler have the same bedtime as your middle-schooler? Do bedtimes need to be adjusted? Are there things that can be done at night to be ready for the next day such as having the backpack ready or the coffee ready on an auto-timer?
  • When is your teen sleeping? Many teens stay up late and sleep in late. Encourage your teen to start getting back into a school-friendly sleep schedule as soon as possible.
  • How can mornings be calmer? A chaotic morning sets it up for a chaotic day. Waking up even five minutes early can give you a sip of coffee and a moment to yourself. Consistency and time create calm.
  • What activities does your child want to participate in this year? Try to find balance between not enough and too much.
  • Do you have an activity board or visual way to communicate as a family? Routt County families are busy. Many children also live in more than one household. Transitioning between parents, activities, homework, jobs, etc. is hard. Kids need help learning to manage a schedule and their time.
  • How do you foster independence? A new school year can be a great time to start new responsibilities.
  • How are you, as a parent who is also a human, taking care of yourself? Modeling healthy behaviors is one of the best ways to teach.
  • What values are important to your family? In each of these questions, there is an opportunity to instill your family values. Whether that is kindness, openness, honesty, bravery, grit or something else entirely, how you choose to spend your time cultivates these values.

Every kid, parent and family is different. All of these questions and suggestions are a starting point to help take some of the stress out of the beginning of the school year. These things can only happen when you are connected to your toddler, child or teen. First, maybe ask, “When do you feel most connected to your child?” and go from there.

Whitney Bakarich is a licensed professional counselor at Mind Springs Health.


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