Before heading into a new season, it’s good to gather as a family and reestablish family ground rules and expectations. So, a couple of weeks before school begins (now is the perfect time), decide together with your hubby that you will be having a special Family Meeting. EVERYONE in the family must attend – Mom, Dad, brothers, sisters, even the family pet would be a fun addition!
Pick a good time for everyone in the family. Usually after dinner works best – with the promise of an After Family Meeting Dessert! 🙂
Think about what expectations you as parents have for your family as you enter into the new school year. Obviously a new school year means more structure to your routines, and kids need to know that. It’s super helpful for kids to have a clear picture in their head of what’s coming around the corner. Here are some example discussion topics that I think are appropriate for a Back to School Family Meeting…
- Roll Back Bedtimes – Holy cow this is important! I used to hate going to bed at 8:30 every night when I was in elementary school, but boy! After having Noah, I’ve come to realize just how CRITICAL it is that we help our children get the rest they need! If I ever go back to teaching and find myself concerned about a child’s performance in class, I would definitely ask the parents what their child’s sleep habits were. There have been many studies that have linked poor sleep habits with hyperactivity and cognitive problems that impact a child’s ability to learn in school. From ages 5-12, children should be getting between 10-11 hours of sleep per night. Try rolling back bedtimes by 10-15 minutes a week until you’re back to your regular schedule. Discuss this as a family and let your kids know how great they’ll be feeling once school begins! To help them get excited about this, maybe leave sweet little notes under their pillows – tell your children that they need to get to their beds so that they can find out what you hid under their pillows! Don’t let them pull it out until everyone’s tucked in!
- Rise and Shine! – Kids need to know that their mornings are going to be busy with lunch pail organization, backpack checks, breakfast and teeth brushing instead of pajamas and cartoons. 🙂 Maybe the week before school begins, plan a fun family outing that requires everyone to rise early as if it were a school day. Or have a Boo Hoo Breakfast!! (Check my blog tomorrow for more on this!)
- Homework Expectations – From kindergarten on, homework is a big deal in most schools! Help your kids be prepared by organizing a specific time each day for them to get their work done. Maybe your children can’t do certain activities (video games, TV, cell phone, computer, etc.) until they’ve completed school assignments. Reading is also one of the BIGGEST homework activities out there, so find a fun way to get your kids excited about all of the books they’ll be reading in the new year! Make a Reading Tree! Take a wall in your house and decorate it to look like a tree with brown construction paper. Every time your child reads a book, write it down on a green leaf and hang it on the tree!
- Behavior Expectations – This one’s a biggie! School starting means lots of interaction with lots of children. Help your child be prepared for the issues that may arise in a classroom by reviewing your family’s expectations on how to solve conflict, respecting authority, or how to be a good friend. I am a big fan of teaching kids about what I call THE BIG TWO – God’s biggest commands for us – Loving God and Loving Others. I’ve found that pretty much everything can be funneled down to these two things. How can I love and serve God in this situation? Or How can I love this person more?
- Sharing! – Give each person in the family an opportunity to share something! Decorate a wooden paint stick from the hardware store in a magical way and dub it the Family Talking Stick. Whoever is holding the stick is the only person allowed to speak. Use your talking stick, pass it around the room and have everyone share two things – 1. Their favorite memory from the summer, and 2. One thing they are excited about the new year. Encourage the family to be supportive of one another! For example, if brother has struggled with getting good grades in the past, let this family meeting be an opportunity to build him up and help him set goals for the new school year. Then…
- PRAY! – Make sure you close your family meeting with PRAYER. Pray for the new school year, for your children, for their teachers and friends, for routines and schedules to fall into place, and for God to be honored in it all!
Family meetings are a fabulous way to get everyone on the same page as well as stir some excitement about an upcoming new season of life!! And don’t forget that family meetings are also a great way to get everyone pumped about a delicious dessert surprise when it’s all over!
Let me know what YOU like to talk about or do in your family meetings!!! 🙂
(P.S. To my readers – please forgive me that it’s been awhile since I’ve last posted! I have been spending some really great End-of-Summer-Quality-Time with my family! I knew you’d understand!!!! :-))