Aug 122015 3 Responses

The Best Way to Start the School Day

Calmly.

Without question, the most important aspect of launching our children into a good day is to start the day in a calm, loving, and stable way. (See: What Every Parent Should Know as Kids Go Back to School)

We cannot control what the day holds for our children, but we fully control the way their day begins.

Josh and Sara sit at the same table in Mrs. Beavers second grade class. They both stand and say the Pledge of Allegiance as their school day begins, but their days have already been radically different.

Sara ran into the classroom as the second bell was ringing. She hurriedly put her backpack in locker and rushed to her desk. She wasn’t even seated as the class stood for the national anthem. She’s only been awake for thirty minutes. Her mom scrambled to get her out of bed, brush her teeth, find clothes to put on, and grabbed half a granola bar as they ran out of the door. The morning was a blur. Only being seven, Sara doesn’t realize that what she is feeling is stress. She feels rushed, wrong, unworthy, and unloved. Sara’s mom feels even worse. She feels like a bad mother and desperately wants to go back to school and give her daughter a pass for the day.

Josh was at school a few minutes early. He walked into his class and made sure everything was in its proper place before the first bell rang. He was sleepy this morning, but he got up, quickly put on his clothes and headed downstairs. He ate breakfast and made sure everything was in his backpack. The car ride to school was slow and leisurely. Josh is too young to recognize it, but his mom was calming his anxiety with light conversation and a positive tone. As he recites the Pledge, Josh feels loved, secure, and prepared for the day. His mom is concerned about how his day will go, but she is confident she has done her part in helping him have a great day.

On most days, which morning better defines your child’s experience?

Is there any question which one you would prefer for your child?

Parent’s cannot control their child’s day, but they can control how the day begins.

Each quarter I sit at the Awards Assembly for our kids school and watch students receive the “No-tardy Award.” That award shouldn’t be given to children; it should be given to their parents. Elementary school students rarely determine if they are late or on time. That is a role played by their parents or care-takers.

And if we would commit to doing our part, we could better prepare our students for success.

Four Steps to a Better School Day 

1. Recognize what you control. Understand the power you have in influencing your child’s day. Embrace the opportunity. With so many variables outside of our control, parents should cling to those things we do control. The beginning of the day is one of those things. (See: One Thing Parents Control)

2. Intentionally choose to start the day properly. Don’t just hope to do better. Make it a stated plan to do better. Involving everyone in the family–mom, dad, children, others–state your intention to have a more peaceful and productive start to the day.

3. Create a routine. The key to a calm morning is a good routine. Define what a successful morning would look like and plan toward that morning. Make sure everyone has a say in what the routine should be and hold one another accountable when they fail to do their part. Do everything you can the night before–pick out clothes, determine lunches, define wake-up time. Clearly explain the consequences if a child doesn’t take care of their responsibilities–no TV until fully dressed, no after school free-time if they aren’t in the car on time, etc. (See: You Chose This–a Reflection on Time Management)

4. When you fail, admit it, and do better. You will fail. You will oversleep or forget something or wake up in a bad mood. No parent is perfect. The difference between good parenting and bad parenting is how we handle mistakes. Bad parenting hides mistakes and pretends as though they don’t happen. Good parenting admits mistakes, apologizes to children, and makes better choices. Don’t expect perfection from yourself, but do continually strive toward the goal of a peaceful morning. (See: Three Ways Parents Discourage Their Children)

Whenever I drop my kids off at school, I watch other children. I see the stress on their faces. I see the tension as they start the day. I can feel the fear which many of them have. While I cannot protect my children from everything, I can give them a gift of a calm, reassuring, loving environment in which they can start their day. Because of the circumstances of life, not every parent can provide that to their children. But for those of us who can, we should.

3 Responses to The Best Way to Start the School Day
  1. Sue Grace Reply

    Kevin,
    As an educator, I thank you for such a timely article. While planning professional development for my school, we decided Classroom Management was an area that needed to be addressed. Teachers need to have rules (with consequences) posted as well as procedures (no consequences) practiced until learned. Each teacher has countless procedures that must be learned so that learning can happen. However, if a student forgets we need to practice (not punish) our procedure again either individually or whole class. Our school wide rules consist of 1. Treat yourself, others and our school building with respect 2. Listen when others are talking 3. Keep your hands, feet and objects to yourself, and 4. Follow directions. All of our rules can be enforced and have a consequence when broken. You will notice that none of our rules have anything to do with the parents responsibilities because we can not enforce them. Being tardy, not having your school supplies or lunch money, as well, as not having your reading log signed are not the responsibilities of the students. No student needs to be reprimanded or made to feel bad about things that are out of their control.

  2. […] It’s a popular image which circulates on the internet after some tragic event at a school, &#... kevinathompson.com/if-you-want-god-in-the-schools

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