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Posted by on May 29, 2012 in Blog, Education | 8 comments

School & Social Matters: Share Your Brilliance

School & Social Matters: Share Your Brilliance

Long, gorgeous summery weekend notwithstanding, it’s a little hard to believe that school is already out for some, or is nearing an end for others. And at the end of the year, things — logistical and/or emotional — often can become more challenging due to fatigue and other factors. Not surprisingly, we’ve written a lot about school and social matters in Minimalist Parenting and now we’d love to hear from you. Share your brilliance on any or all of the questions below; we’re looking to include not-already-covered nuggets of wisdom from the community! If we include one of your ideas, we will of course quote you appropriately!

1. How do you make school mornings run smoother?

2. What are your best tips for handling homework battles/getting homework done?

3. What practices have you found most effective for handling school related anxiety?

4. What are your favorite ways to connect with other parents in your school community?

Also, if you are digging the school topic and haven’t yet had a chance to share your brilliance re: your most vivid learning memories, please do so!

Image credit: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

8 Comments

  1. 1. How do you make school mornings run smoother?
    Have kids pack their bookbags the night before with finished homework. Have a checklist of chores to do every morning (gets dressed, brush teeth, put lunch in bag…). Make lunch while they eat breakfast and talk about the upcomimg day (remember gymnastics is tonight so do as much homework at the sitters after school)

    2. What are your best tips for handling homework battles/getting homework done?
    Distract younger child with educational workbooks while helping older child do homework as you do dinner dishes. I have a star chart for reward. 1 star for every piece of homework without any mistakes when I check it. Once the chart is full, I will buy her something she wants (within reason and we decide what it is beforehand)

    3. What practices have you found most effective for handling school related anxiety? Haven’t come across this yet

    4. What are your favorite ways to connect with other parents in your school community? No idea

    • Thanks Hillary! Your response to #1 reminded me of something cute my 7-year-old did. Now that she’s facile at telling time she has written on a chalkboard circle when each item of the morning (breakfast, get dressed, brush, pee etc) needs to be done. She did this when I was out of town on a business trip so she could help my husband with the morning routine.

      We’ve got lots written on #3 and #4 also, should you need it!

  2. I can offer my experience on #4. What are your favorite ways to connect with other parents in your school community?

    Being a FT working parent, I lose out on the after school pickup conversations and connections that are made while the kids run out the school door, throw bags at the “moms”, and then sprint to the playground. To connect with parents within the school community I participate in volunteering a couple hours a few weekends or some late-afternoon work-breaks for “special events” in our school — setting up for a Halloween bash, painting murals, cleaning up. The efforts are appreciated by the organizers and I get to meet parents and teachers that I may not meet in my class-specific interactions.

    Additionally, when my daughter entered Kindergarten, I befriended a group on moms and we started getting together every month or so for a “Mom’s Night Out”. It’s a great time for us to all get away for a few hours, talk about our lives, what’s going on in the schools & in town, and through these fun little outings, we’ve extended our group with more many more moms that join us.

    • Liz, this is great. I think it’s all about doing what works for you and your schedule. I know that when Laurel started elementary school I carried a lot of guilt. I work full time (actually, more than full time) yet because I work out of a home office, I felt like I “should” be flexible and do everything. I finally just let that go and contribute where I can. And I realized that truly, every little bit (no matter how small the act seems) is appreciated by the parent community.

  3. How do you make school mornings run smoother?
    Waking up was our biggest challenge. My 1st grader was really resistant to getting up, regardless of how many hours of sleep he got. On a random trip to Target, he went ga-ga over a Darth Vader Alarm clock, and problem solved. Now, he gets up the minute that clock goes off.

    2. What are your best tips for handling homework battles/getting homework done?
    Our 1st grade teacher sent home a packet of homework on Monday, and it was all due on Friday. This allowed him (us) to look at the calendar and get a little more homework done on nights that were free, and less work on nights that had baseball, basketball, etc. We are also inclined to let Alex run around for a bit after school, rather than diving right into schoolwork. Since we also have a pre-schooler at home, I had to find ways to keep her occupied, and because she likes to be part of things, involved in a similar activity, There was no why don’t you play X Y or Z, if I was helping with math homework. Harper would sit in the kitchen at a table and do her “homework” as well. This usually involved glitter.
    3. What practices have you found most effective for handling school related anxiety?
    We haven’t had any yet.
    4. What are your favorite ways to connect with other parents in your school community?
    We’re bus people, and have been since Kindergarten, so I missed that pre-school pick up and drop off chat with other parents. I generally let Alex take the lead- once he identified some friends, I would reach out to parents to set up play dates etc. I also tried to pop in for lunch once a month or so, and tried to make most special events. Our teacher was really good about scheduling things first thing in the morning so work outside the home parents could stop in before work (school starts at 8) or right after lunch.

    • Oh Susan, Asha and I make *a lot* of Star Wars references so I laughed about the alarm clock. Wake up he will! Hmmmm. :-)

  4. For homework – our rule from kindergarten is that you come home, have a snack and then we get started. This included days when friends came over after school for a play date. We just built that in to the plan. (Note – homework in K-2 took about 15 minutes, 3-5 took about 30-45 so it was not asking a lot to have everyone get done before play time).

    As they got older, there were after school sports that got in the way of this lovely habit, so we adjusted. If we didn’t get home until dinner time, we had dinner then started homework. If we found we were sitting at practice somewhere, the other kid learned to take out their homework and get started right there.

    Establishing a homework routine is just like establishing a bedtime routine for your kids, and just as important! They will have 13 years of homework before starting college so then add another 4-7 years – it will be a big part of their life and making sure they see it as such is really important.

    Parent attitude is HUGE in this case too, if you are constatntly annoyed that your child has homework, they will develop a bad attitude, too. I can’t tell you how many parents I know that loudly complained about homework (again — 15 minutes worth? is it really too much?). As they got older, homework has become more and more of a fight.

    My older daughter has a math-related learning disability that wasn’t completely diagnosed until 7th grade. But when we realized that 3rd grade math homework could take more than an hour we met with the teacher and discussed accomodations. We set up extra tutoring and after school help, etc. while we tried to figure out if she was just struggling or if this required a formal diagnosis.

    Remember – sometimes when a kid is dreading their homework it is because they can’t do it and know it will be painful to get through. Discuss this with your child’s teacher – there could be a misunderstanding of expectations, a need for tutoring or something else going on.

    Jen

    • Yes Jen, absolutely re: homework dream meaning something else. I feel that way with the word “boring” — sometimes when Laurel says something at school is “boring” she actually means that it’s too hard for her.

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