Question: We’re back to school this month and I want to make the year go smoothly. What are some of the most important things to do to make this happen?
Answer: To make the school year go smoothly, a family discussion really helps. Talk about the things that worked last year and those that didn’t. Focus on everyday activities such as the time to get up, eat, do homework and go to bed.
It is also important to talk about how your children will organize getting everything ready for the new school day, including getting forms signed and making or buying lunch. Early agreement on all these things is vital. However, nothing should be written in stone. Routines can be changed if they are not working.
Once the nitty-gritty of each day is organized, parents need to focus on the things that they can do to make the school year look a whole lot better. For many families, the answer is to slow things down to avoid feeling exhausted and tense from too many activities. A steady diet of rushing to ballet, sports and clubs for the children and meetings and exercise classes for the parents can just about eliminate the chance for family members to relax or enjoy family time. It is also very important to have dinner together to talk to each other.The Value of Pretend Play
Question: I am a bit worried. My two young girls, ages 3 and 5, spend a great deal of their time in pretend play. Is this a good thing for them to do? A lot of it centers on being princesses. They have their princess dolls riding horseback and living in castles. They also dress up as princesses.
Answer: It certainly seems to be popular right now for young girls to pretend to be princesses and play with princess dolls. If you are upset about their concentration on "princesses," you might try providing additional paraphernalia from stores to kitchens to broaden their horizons. They may, however, just move their princesses into these new venues.
Pretend play is a wonderful thing for children to do. Educators are enthusiastic about its benefits. It is a great way to prepare kids for school. By playing together, your children are learning to take turns, be part of a team, negotiate and play leader. At the same time, they are enhancing their verbal skills and learning how to solve problems.
Pretend play also fosters creativity. Since young children learn by imagining and doing, be glad that they are building so many skills.Handling Bullying
Question: My 7th grader has just told me that he doesn’t want to go back to school. He says that a group of kids teased him unmercifully last year about his very curly hair. How can I help him handle this?
Answer: First, you have to find out how serious this situation really is. Could it just be anxiety about returning to school? Or is it in any way a threatening situation?
As you know, bullying is a big problem with close to three quarter’s of all children having been bullied. Your son needs to learn how to respond to verbal bullying. Should the bullying become physical or escalate to threats of violence, school personnel must be brought into the situation at once.
There are books that will give you and your son ideas about how to deflect bullying. A good choice is Bullies Are a Pain in the Brain. Look for a video of the same title on You Tube where you’ll find other videos that have solid approaches to handling bullying.
Advise your son that this is a new school year, and he may no longer be a target of the bullies. Also, help him develop strategies to use if he should be bullied again. These could include avoiding the bullies, making everyone laugh and staying with his friends.
By Peggy Gisler and Marge Eberts