09 Aug School Is “Kewl”
Warning: Saying the word school too early in the summer may result in explosion of child. You probably felt the same way back in the day. Remember when your folks did it to you? “Bedtime starts early tonight; school starts in two weeks.”
Some things never change. My wife and I give our boys a little workbook to complete over the summer to practice handwriting, math skills, and reading comprehension. Basic stuff, right? Only three days a week. You would think I was giving my third-grader Advanced Calculus! And as for my second grader, let’s just say he took whining to the next level. School is not cool to them. They want to be running with their friends. Riding their bikes. Enjoying a movie. Playing Pokémon. Drawing. Reading for pleasure.
Shhhh! Don’t tell them that reading something like Diary of a Wimpy Kid actually prepares them for school!
So how can parents get their kids mentally ready for school when all they want is summer to never end?
That is a solid question. For starters, think about the positive. Most kids like something about school. Focus on the things that make them smile. If you use school in the context of prison or punishment, the kids will see it that way. It is like when my mom found out how to blend broccoli or cauliflower into a delicious casserole. I never even knew I was eating something I wasn’t supposed to like.
School is the same way. If you promote school by saying, “Hey, I see you have algebra first hour,” your child had better like math class. Me? It wasn’t my thing. If Mom had said that, I would have cringed in agony. She would have been better off saying, “Aren’t you looking forward to seeing Ted and Keith again? Ted’s mom told me you have algebra together.” Much better. My friends mattered a lot more to me than the classes I took.
What if your child is leveling up from elementary to middle or from middle to high school? One word will pique their interest: freedom. Kids desire independence! Middle schoolers actually get to walk at their own pace to class, not being led by a teacher. They decorate lockers. They enjoy new elective classes. Same for high schoolers. Even more sports options are available. The homecoming dance comes right when most are taking an interest in the opposite sex. The excitement will build if you encourage your child the right way.
At the very least, point out that you won’t have to hear that, “Mom, I am bored!” line anymore. (Do your little ones always elongate the word bored to “booored?” Yeah, mine too.) Students will soon be flooded with so many new activities and engaging lessons that boredom evaporates away like a puff of smoke. Poof!
You know your child. Do a little research on the school website. Point out the activities that you know they will savor. Leave it on the screen for them to see later on.
Your kids will come around. They will see that school is actually pretty cool. Unless they are in middle school; then they change it to “kewl.” (Not sure why.) I do know that if you attempt to speak their language, it immediately becomes uncool. Do NOT be that parent. Do, however, be the parent that creates intentional moments with positive conversation. Elicit a laugh or two. Pump them up! If all else fails, give them chore after chore until they realize they would gladly welcome a change of scenery.
Works every time.
Clint Daniels is entering his 17th year of teaching 7th Grade Language Arts at Indian Trail Middle School. He is the co-sponsor of FCA in his building and works as a part-time FCA associate as well. He also leads a faculty prayer group and reaches out to Christian teachers on his blog at www.theteachersdevotional.com.