Back-To-School Basics

As summer draws to an end, the school season is about to begin. Mannersmith's Marianne Cohen has prepared this month's Mannersmith Monthly.

"It is the most wonderful time of the year," at least for parents - but not necessarily for the tanned and relaxed children running around in the yard. Yes, Back-To-School season is upon us. And it can be stressful for all involved - students, teachers and parents. Below are some suggestions and ideas on how to prepare everyone for a happy start to the school year.

Best Friends Forever? ~ It may be good to remind your children that 3 months is a long time without seeing a friend. Their BFF from last spring may have changed over the summer. Your child may have gone to camp, learned new skills and made new friends. If your child has not seen school chums all summer, they may not have as much in common. If you are able, schedule a play-date at the end of the summer to reacquaint everyone.

"What I did On My Summer Vacation" ~ This question is something almost all teachers ask. Role-play the question with your child so he or she is prepared and ready to answer it - likely in front of the class! Help your child to remember all the fun activities you did this summer: camp, day trips to the beach, going to an amusement park, vacation visiting Grandma and Grandpa, taking the train to Boston, etc. As an end of summer activity, have your child make a book about everything you did and show it to friends. If you took pictures, make a scrapbook to bring to school the first week. Many online photo sites have templates for storybooks, which your child can help you put together. Or have your child bring in their travel journal from your summer vacation.

Squeaky Wheels Get the Grease ~ What do you do if after the first few weeks of school, your child is atypically cranky, coming home crying, and just plain miserable? Schedule a time to speak with the teacher by phone, in person or communicate by email about what may be happening in class. If after the first or second communication you feel your child just does not click with that teacher, talk to the school sooner rather than later. When a classroom change is necessary, doing so earlier on will cause less disruption for everyone.

New Kid on the Block ~ If your child is new to the school, call and ask for a recommendation for a friendly child in your neighborhood. Many Parent Teacher Organizations have a buddy system to help you acclimate to the new school. Schedule a tour of the school before the first day so your child will not be so intimidated when he/she arrives for that first nerve-wracking day.

Be a Buddy ~ If you are well connected in your neighborhood and your child enjoys making new friends, call your school to see if there will be any new children in class. Reach out to invite them over for a play-date. Or invite them to the local ice cream shop to chat. Not only will the parents appreciate meeting a new acquaintance, so will the children. And you all get to enjoy an end of summer ice cream!

The Teacher With The Bad Reputation ~ How do you prepare your child for the "bad" teacher? Do not fret. Different children thrive with different classroom management techniques and teaching styles. Just because your friend's or neighbor's child had a tough year with that particular teacher does not mean your child will too. In fact, the teacher's style may suit your child's learning style quite well.

Proper Manners at All Times ~ The end of summer is the perfect time to review proper behavior in school: new teachers mean new rules. Your child should be gently reminded to listen carefully to see how this year's teacher likes to run the classroom. It may be the complete opposite of what your child had last year. Also, remind your child of other school rules for riding the bus, polite table manners for eating in the cafeteria, and proper play on the playground.

Early Bird Gets the Worm ~ Your little ones may have been staying up late all summer enjoying s'mores at the campfire, but they will need to get back into a routine very quickly. To avoid having bedtime meltdowns and tired cranky students, make sure you start the bedtime routine a little earlier a week or two prior to school starting. Your children may not go right to sleep, but encourage them to stay in their rooms to know that it will be part of their routine. This way they will be nice, fresh and rested for that first day back.

Going back to school is exciting, nerve-wracking, and scary... for children and for parents! Preparing your child (and yourself) will make it easier for everyone involved. Then, after you drop off the children for their first day, sigh your sigh of relief. Then you can start missing them.

How many days until summer?

Marianne Cohen runs the Manners for Minors Division of Mannersmith Etiquette Consulting. If you are interested in a program for your child's school, scout troop or sports team, please e-mail her at: