Are your children looking forward to the new school year beginning? Maybe some are and others aren’t.

We can encourage them in several ways in the remaining days or weeks before their first day and as the year gets underway.

Notice them being smart and talk with them about it. Provide the evidence so they know it’s more than your opinion. Then, when the school year begins and they come home talking about what’s going on, reinforce these smarts in your responses.

  • When they’re using words well, let them know they’re word smart.
  • When they’re asking questions to figure things out, let them know they’re logic smart.
  • When they’re using their eyes and pictures well, let them know they’re picture smart.
  • When they’re enjoying music and using rhythms and melodies, let them know they’re music smart.
  • When they’re moving well and thinking with large motor and/or small motor movements, let them know they’re body smart.
  • When they’re noticing patterns and enjoying being outside, let them know they’re nature smart.
  • When they’re thinking well with you and others, let them know they’re people smart.
  • When they’re thinking deeply by themselves, let them know they’re self smart.

Remind them of strategies they used last year that helped them. Even with different teachers, textbooks, assignments, and tests, children can often use many of the same strategies. They may not realize this and it can contribute to anxiety as a new year begins. Remind them of changes they talked about wanting to make in their learning and studying strategies so they’d have a better year.

  • How did they memorize math facts, spelling words, and vocabulary definitions?
  • How did they choose and research subjects for their papers?
  • How did they get all their reading finished and retain what they read?
  • How did they carefully and accurately complete written assignments and worksheets?
  • How did they manage their time?
  • How did they organize their materials?

Talk about the character qualities* that will help them use their smarts and strategies well. Remind them they used them over the summer in a variety of ways. Remind them of changes they talked about wanting to make as last year ended.

For example:

  • Commitment – Devoting myself to following up on my words (promises, pledges or vows) with action.
  • Perseverance – A continuing effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, failure and opposition.
  • Responsibility – Knowing and doing what is expected from me.
  • Contentment – Accepting myself as God created me with my gifts, talents, abilities and opportunities.
  • Thoughtfulness – Showing consideration for others through acts of kindness and/or words.
  • Flexibility – Learning how to cheerfully change plans when unexpected conditions require it.
  • Attentiveness – Showing the worth of a person or task by giving my undivided concentration and effort.
  • Diligence – Visualizing each task as a special assignment and using all my energies to accomplish it.

Pay attention and listen carefully these days as your children talk about returning to school. Facilitate a future-oriented, optimistic conversation. I hope these ideas help.

*  These qualities and their definitions are taken from the appendix, Character Qualities to Develop in Your Children, on pages 233-241, in Dr. Kathy’s book she wrote with Jill Savage, No More Perfect Kids: Love Your Kids for Who They Are. You can find many more words there and at the original source: www.characterthatcounts.org.