Ready to Make a Fresh Start
Dr. Carole G. Hankin with Randi T. Sachs
we all know, the month of August means one thing: school and September
are just around the corner. There’s a very amusing television
commercial for a stationery supply store that plays that December
holiday song, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” while
showing parents enthusiastically stocking up on new school supplies.
But our children do have the wonderful advantage of starting each
school year with a clean, fresh slate. They may need you, however,
to point out why this is truly to their benefit.
School plays a major role in every child’s life. Did you ever
notice how consistently children link significant events in their
lives with the grade they were in when it occurred, or the teacher
they had at the time? They will say something like, “My little
sister was born when I was in third grade. I remember because
Mrs. Black made me a big brother party.”
Being promoted to a new grade can provide the motivation a reluctant
student may need to try a little harder this year. August is the
real time for New Year’s resolutions to be made. You can use the
time you have with your children on a lazy, hot day to talk about
their expectations for the coming school year. Discuss very calmly
any subjects that gave them difficulty before and see if together
you can come up with a plan to avoid the same thing this year.
Also, talk about the areas in which your child has been most successful
and how he or she can continue to grow and improve in these subjects.
What about extra-curricular activities at home or in school? It’s
not too early to make some plans in August if your child wants
to try something new in the fall.
The real magic that happens in September is that your child has
the opportunity to make a new start in not only specific subject
areas, but socially and emotionally as well. A new class means
new classmates and a chance to make new friends. A new teacher
(or teachers, for secondary school students) is also an opportunity
for your child to form a new, positive relationship that may very
well have an important effect on his or her life.
Moving on to the next grade may also be the right time to give
your children some new responsibilities or new privileges to show
that you recognize that they are growing more mature. You could
consider raising their weekly allowance, extending their bedtime,
or increasing travel privileges if you deem it appropriate. It
will be doubly appreciated if you make the offer yourself, without
any prompting or persuading from your children. Remember, it is
easier to grant privileges than to revoke them, so take it slowly,
one step at a time, and make sure that your children know that
they will have to show they can handle the new privileges and
responsibilities before they are made permanent. Most of all,
enjoy each new year with your child.#
Dr. Hankin is the Superintendent of the Syosset School District
in Long Island.
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