7 Back to School Tips to Help Your Kids Start & Finish Strong

Okay, take a deep breath. You can do this. This year does not have to be a repeat of last. You can break the power struggle with your kids over school. You’re not alone, many parents dread the start of the school year. Getting kids back in the mindset of school is not an easy task. Keeping them focused throughout the school year is tough.

Old Habits are hard to break

Parents and kids form habits about the school year. For some, it works well, with kids staying on track and performing well. If that’s you, then you can skip this blog and find another topic to explore. However, if you’ve developed some bad habits with your kids about school, you need a new approach. Recently, parents scheduled time with me to develop a new strategy for the school year. We talked about three things:
  1. What they did that doesn’t work.
  2. How to get on the same page.
  3. How to construct a new plan for their kids.
After a few sessions the kids joined their parents. We accomplished three things:
  1. Dad and mom shared the plan and the kids could only listen.
  2. The kids provided feedback, sharing their ideas,
  3. After some tweaking the entire family bought into the plan.
Now they are prepared to go into the school year with new habits to form. Here are 7 tips every parent can use to help their student start and finish the school year strong.
#1: Start with a clean slate
Erase the memory of the past year. Empty the trash bin in your brain. Get the dread out of your head! If you begin with a negative attitude you activate the old habits. This is not time for a parent lecture either. Wipe the slate clean.
#2: Construct a new plan for success
If you are not on the same page then start here. Parents often schedule time with me so that they can learn how to get on the same page. It’s not that hard when you have a third-party coach working with you. Share your hopes and expectations for the new school year. Establish a simple plan for homework that is clear and easy to enforce. Include an incentive plan and clearly defined consequences for non-compliance.
#3: Communicate plan to kids with some opportunity for input
Plan a back-to-school meeting with your kids and explain together the plan you have devised. Inform them that you will open the floor for discussion after you have laid out the plan completely. Allow your kids opportunity to give their feedback and suggestions. This encourages self-expression and will likely get buy-in if they feel they have a voice. Kids often come up with good ideas. Be clear that parents make the final decision. Make the plan visual. Construct a visual board in the kitchen. Put it in the daily/weekly family calendar on their electronic devises.
#4: Execute and manage all phases of the plan
Here is where many parents fail their kids. They do not follow-through on execution. Trust me, I hear this often from kids. They complain that parents don’t hold them accountable–that they threaten but do not enforce consequences. Kids will test the integrity of the plan, looking for weaknesses. Expect this and be prepared to take action. Follow-through is critical to a strong ending of the school year. Be consistent in keeping the plan in place.
#5: Schedule a monthly family meeting throughout the school year
This family meeting time must be guarded at all cost. Establish a forum of discussion about the plan, how it’s working and what needs tweaking. Encourage your kids to talk about the school year, what they like, don’t like, and where they might feel stuck. Listen well and collaborate with the child how he/she can problem-solve the situation.
#6: Take full advantage of the portals of communication the school offers
Communicate early and often with teachers, especially if it is a class your child struggles in academically. If you utilize tutors, be sure your conversing with them regularly in order to stay apprised of your child’s progress. By all means, be a frequent visitor of the parent portal many schools offer parents to monitor homework, assignments, etc…
#7: Celebrate success throughout the year
Establish incentives that motivate your kids to action they can achieve throughout the year. These don’t have to be expensive incentives. Playing a game together at night after homework doesn’t cost anything. Going out to eat after a major project is can be a fun way of celebrating goals reach or target behaviors accomplished.

Now it’s your turn

Do you have a “back to school” tip you can add to the list? Share it with the community by leaving a comment below.