The school bell rang, for many parts of the country, more than a month ago. At that time, it was easy to be excited about school - the supply shopping, buying new clothes and shoes, seeing old friends and making new ones. Even the actually going back into the classroom for learning is interesting and exciting for a little while - don't let your child's words convince you otherwise. But, soon enough, the newness has worn off and the monotony and drudgery reappear - where DO they go, anyway? maybe if we could figure that out it'd be easy to stave them off - and you are faced with kids who don't enjoy school. How can you help keep that excitement flowing?
- New Supplies - Some of the excitement that forms at the beginning of the year is due to new supplies. Be honest - don't you love going to the office supply store? It's one of my favorite places to spend time, and I also admit to feeling a rush when I bring those new supplies home. Make an effort to get a new notebook with a fun picture or new even pencils (Smencils are a fun treat!).
- Post Upcoming Excitement on the Calendar - Is there an up and coming play? Or a special dinner, or pep really scheduled for next week? Jot it on your calendar and begin a countdown.
- Praise and Positive Words - We all need some encouragement in our lives. Praise goes a long way. Has your daughter gotten herself up for school the whole week without reminder? Did your son remember his instrument successfully for a month? Let them know that you appreciate their efforts. One effort that my kids really enjoy - leave a card on their pillow, to be found at bed time, or slip an "I'm proud of you!" note in a packed lunch.
- Model the Behavior You Want to See - Let's face it. Long about October, getting up early is a drag for you and it's difficult to make yourself show excitement. Put on a good face and model the spirit you want your kids to have. Fake it until you make it, in other words.
- Stay Involved - Remember when your student was in preschool and you came to school? She was so excited! Even though your student is older, she's no less excited now - she just doesn't show it as profusely. By staying involved at your school, you tell your child with your actions that you think this is an important place, worthy of your efforts and time.
- Questions are Good - In the same vein, ask questions about school. Not the yes or no "Did you have a good day?" but directed questions such as, "Who did you sit next to at lunch?" or "Tell me three good things - and one not so good - about your day." My kids clamor to be the first to answer and we rotate around the car. Often we have to make three or more circles before they have exhausted their tidbits of daily school life.
- Encourage Your Student to Have Friends Visit - Especially for teenagers, friends are the most important part of their schooling. Be the house in which they congregate. Have snacks on hand and a dedicated hangout area. Have the necessary supplies on hand for projects - poster boards, markers, etc - and provide snacks. Welcoming their friends, as well as placing importance on their work, sends a clear and direct messge to your child that you think what he does is important.
How do you keep your children excited to go back to school long after that first rush of a new year?