The 1st day of school is upon us once again, bursting with tears from children and whoops of joy from parents. Adults and kids will be faced with the daunting task of addressing agreements about school year routines including homework, chores, and schedules. The following are my top four ways to get the year off on the right foot.
- Family meetings: Have a family meeting to decide together, as a family, all the pertinent agreements needed for the house to run smoothly. This could include items like morning and bedtime routines, homework practices, chores, and screen time. Involving your kids in the process of deciding these routines will ensure better cooperation because you can truly create win-win agreements with everyone getting their needs met. I like to call it agreements/ accountability vs. rules/ punishments.
- Set intentions: Listen to what your children’s goals are for the school year, including academics, friendships, activities, and growth areas. Help them to make their goals specific, i.e. what by when. They will be more self-motivated to persist and succeed if they have more autonomy in choosing what they want to accomplish this year.
- What’s really important: Have some conversations about what each person and the family values. Then make decisions about how you will all spend your time based upon these principles vs. based on what everyone else is doing. Drop out of the rat race and choose more down time to keep everyone close and balanced. Don’t forget to decide together on electronic-free times where everyone is unplugged and present.
- Accountability: Decide how you will hold each other accountable to your agreements and intentions. We found that weekly family meetings were the best way to follow up on how we were doing with responsibilities we had agreed on. It was also important to check in on how the kids were doing with their intentions, and what kind of support they might need from mom and dad to stay on track.
One of Stephen Covey’s 7 habits of highly effective people is to “begin with the end in mind”. The above-mentioned tips are a way to accomplish that. It’s incredibly impactful and empowering for the entire family to work together in creating the experiences they want. Begin the process now before you get swept up into the hustle bustle of the school year.