family meetings

Family Meetings For a Successful School Year

Family Meetings:

Dear Coach Deborah,

I am hoping that the start to this school year will be different. And by different, I mean better. But I’m not sure what to do to reach that goal. We generally start out organized and on the same page but it’s not long before it all goes off the rails. Do you have a system or suggestion for how to start this school year in a better place that is long-lasting?

Signed, I Need a System

Hello Mom Who Needs a System,

Thank you for reaching out. Although you didn’t go into detail about what you’ve tried before, I’m going to give you three things that I have seen change the trajectory of the start of the school year for families just like yours. Not only that, but you and your family can revisit these three things over and over again throughout the year to get recentered.

  1. Family Meetings – The beginning of the school year is a great time to have a family meeting. Make sure everyone feels like their voice is heard. Use an object – a ball, spoon, anything that can serve as a reminder that whoever has the object has the floor. Always start these meetings with encouragement. It’s a way to open everyone up to sharing what’s on their mind. Keep the meeting simple, with maybe one or two points/questions to discuss. For example, “What’s one thing about the upcoming school year that you’re excited about and one thing you’re concerned about?”
  2. A Focus for Each Family Member – Let each child choose one thing they want to focus on as school begins. Making friends, trying harder in a subject, paying attention in class and participating in class more are things that may come to mind. But here’s the thing – Mom and Dad aren’t exempt. Share what area(s) you want to improve, too. Remember, this is a family meeting, and you can all improve on something.
  3. Come Up with a Family Motto – Make it something short and sweet that everyone can remember. For our family, “Porter Power!” is one we still use. Another was, “We do what we have to do so that we can do what we want to do!” We still say Porter Power! today to encourage each other, whether it’s about a new job, a promotion, a move or someone just having a bad day. A couple of popular ones other families use are, “In this family, we do hard things” and “Be honest even when it’s hard.” The more you are able to connect this motto to your personal family values, the better.

And remember, life was not meant to be perfect. In fact, the fabric of our lives is made up of all the imperfect moments woven into this beautiful quilt we are still creating.

For a core family values exercise check here.

Have you got a parenting question or concern?

Submit your question for Coach Deborah HERE or email her at and it might get answered in an upcoming issue of Washington Parent. Learn more about Deborah Porter at


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