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School Daze

Reasonable Expectations

Preparing for school, going to school and doing homework after school are all jobs that belong mainly to the kids, not the parents.

Ideally, by first grade age your child can get up, pick out his own clothes, dress himself, make his bed, and be at the breakfast table at a designated time. Breakfast can be a relaxed, unhurried meal, finished in time for your child to be ready to leave for school when the bus arrives. A school-age child is capable of remembering lunches, books, sneakers, homework, and so forth without yournaggin and reminding. A checklist by the door can do any reminding that seems necessary.

By age six a child can choose between school lunch and a brown bag of sandwiches. When the children are 6 - 8 years old you will have to read the school menus to them and help them decide which lunch to have. If these young kids decide to brown bag it you will have to plan lunches together ahead of time so you can have the necessary ingredients on hand. When the kids are older have them make up a shopping list of what they need for lunches. Any kid past kindergarten who takes a homemade lunch can make the lunch himself!

You can also expect kids to be responsible for their own homework. When they first get homework you can help them schedule their time so that it's sure to be done. You can set up a small study center for each child with a desk, a good light, pencils, and so forth. Be sure its far from the TV. Answer questions and show interest in their homework but don't take from them their responsibility for completing it.

Don't expect your child to love everything about school all the time. Many days your child will come home grumpy or upset about one thing or another. Occasionall, when the pressure gets intense, your child may express the desire to stay home or even feign illness to escape school for a day. These are perfectly natural feelings as long as they do not occur too frequently. Few adults love every minute ofthe workday, so don't expect your kids to either. When problems do occur, expect and encourage your children to talk about them with you. Occasionally, if something occurs at school that you don't think your child can handle, you may want to visit the school to help find solutions to the problem.

Don't expect the school to do the entire job of educating your children. Expect the school to teach basic skills, but realize that it is up to you to provide a stimulating home environment and intellectual experiences that will encourage your child to want to learn both in and out of school.

from Coping With Kids, by Dr. Linda Albert