New School Year, New Responsibilities

Before you know it, the time will arrive for you to see your children off to the start of a new school year. They have come a long way since last year, and now that they are a bit older, they will have more responsibilities to manage on their own. An important part of parenting is preparing your family for taking on these new responsibilities.

This year, your child may have to be home alone before or after school. The initial thought of this may be scary to both you and your child. You can first mitigate these fears by setting forth clear expectations. With your child, discuss who is or who is not allowed at your home when you are not present. Explain your reasoning for these rules and also practice role playing what to do if a stranger, deliveryman, or neighbor knocks at the door when your child is alone.

If you must leave home before your child leaves for school in the morning, establish a routine for the procedures the child should follow. This must include gathering any supplies needed for the day ahead, shutting off lights, tending to pets, and locking up the home itself. Your child may benefit from organizing his or her backpack the night before so that it is ready to go in the morning. Your child may also need to take along a lunch bag or lunch money each day. If possible, have a few trial runs at this part of the morning routine before the first school day arrives. In addition to a functional school bag, your child may be able to use a few key supplies to help manage the new responsibilities. Now is the perfect time for teaching kids to protect their valuables – help them out by giving them a durable phone case, a kid-friendly wallet or coin purse, and a cool keychain for the housekey. Remember that they will need practice at managing these items so that they are not misplaced or stolen. As an added measure, you may want to hide a spare housekey on your property just in case your child loses the key to the house or mistakenly locks it outside.

Keeping an eye on the time will be an important habit for your child to establish. Leaving on schedule will be necessary if your child must catch a bus, join a carpool, or walk a distance. In any event, your child should have a backup plan in case the ride to school is missed or school is delayed due to weather.

Cellphones can help your child become more responsible and organized. Kids can easily learn to set their phone’s alarm clock. This feature can be used to remind kids when it is time to head to the bus stop. When offered, help your child register to receive text messages regarding school delays and cancellations. Teach your child to also look for these bulletins on local TV and radio stations. Have a plan in place for what your child needs to do when either of these situations occur.

Communicating with your child through a cellphone will be incredibly handy as you will need to stay in touch regarding extracurricular activities before and after school. Whether it is an ordinary day or one filled with special events, cellphones can make life easier. Although this is the case, they are an enormous responsibility for children. They are expensive to lose, they require power maintenance, and they can be abused by users. You want your child to have safe phone access. You may have a need to track your child’s social network activity, texts, and calls. You may need to set time limits on their use. You will surely want to have filters in place and access to risky sites blocked when the internet is in use. Many apps are built to help parents keep their kids safe. Some even notify a child’s location when the parent activates a panic button. Consider your needs for the digital age before selecting a helpful app like Bark, WebWatcher, or FamilyTime.

As you set the new expectations for your child, now is a good time to talk about how much more responsible your child has become since last year. With your child, review the responsibilities he or she managed last year: organizing school supplies, setting aside time for homework, and maintaining appropriate morning and evening routines. Help your child see how these responsibilities mirror your own. The responsibilities children learn to manage today will benefit them when they become adults.