Well, I finally got my son his own alarm clock. He doesn’t have a phone so, up until now, I’ve had the pleasure of waking him every morning. And when I say pleasure, I mean it. I loved giving him a cheerful greeting and a little nudge to start his day. But that wasn’t really the best thing for him. He needed to learn that I wasn’t always going to be available to be his alarm. The boy needed me to let him learn some responsibility. The school year provides many lessons for kids to learn in addition to their actual schoolwork.
One of the best ways for kids to learn responsibility and how to take care of themselves is to let them do it and suffer the consequences if they fail. Here are five ways to get started in the form of five back to school lessons your kids need to learn this year.
1. How to wake up on their own.
If you’re not ready to give up the morning snuggles with your kids, that’s okay, you can still let them wake up on their own. Once you hear their alarm go off, go in to say hello.
And you might not want to make their phone their alarm clock; that’s way too much temptation at their fingertips to stay up late connecting with their friends or playing video games.
2. How to pack their own lunch or snacks.
This might be tougher on you at first, but once your kids get into a routine you’ll love it. Come up with a few basic lunches your kids can prepare and try to get most of them ready the night before.
3. How to keep track of homework and tests.
You may have to do a little handholding here before you back away completely. Ask your kids what system will work best for them—having a paper planner? Using the calendar on their phone or computer? Until they figure it out, check in with them each night and have them show you what’s on their study to-do list.
4. How to prep school supplies.
Teach them to get their school clothes ready the night before, along with any clothes they’ll need for PE or after-school activities. Same goes for backpacks — they should be packed before bed and your kids should be the ones double checking to be sure they are.
5. How to talk to their teachers.
Ultimately, you want to work yourself out of being the middle ‘mom’ between your children and their teachers. If your son needs to find out what work he missed while he was out sick, have him email his teacher. If your daughter has a question about running for class office or if she wonders what her grade is in math, have her talk to her teacher.
Of course, you can be a confidential communicator with your children’s teachers. I’ve sent many an email to a teacher that went something like this: “Dear Ms. Albright, Sarah is very discouraged about her math grade, but she’s been afraid to talk with you about it. She did tell me last night that she was going to get up the courage to approach you today. I just wanted to let you know in case she seems a bit nervous.”
“By the way,” I always add, “Thank you for not telling Sarah about my email.”
Tell us! What are your ideas for how to teach our kids to be responsible, especially when it comes to school matters?