I rechecked our school’s required list of supplies, and sure enough, there it was—“baby wipes,” right next to plastic zipper bags. What does the school need baby wipes and zipper bags for?, I wondered. If you’ve looked over your child’s back-to-school supply list and required forms this year, you’ve probably had similar moments of confusion, maybe even frustration.
It seems like every year schools ask parents like us to do more in preparation for the start of school. Add to that the often difficult struggle to get the right services to help your child succeed and it can get downright overwhelming. How does a parent get into a healthy mindset to handle this?
Here’s my strategy. I close my eyes and think about my son, not just for a second or two but for a few solid minutes. I see him playing, running and smiling. I remember the moments when he’s happy and feeling good about what’s he accomplished. This brings me back to what going back to school is all about. This time of year is bigger than a heap of pencils, glue sticks and plastic folders. The bigger picture? I want my son to approach school with a positive attitude so that he’ll put in the effort needed when faced with inevitable setbacks and challenges in the classroom.
Focusing on the big picture helps me handle back-to-school preparations with a purpose—to get my child to a positive place. How do I deal with the never-ending list of school supplies? I create a scavenger hunt with my son to help me gather those baby wipes and plastic bags. (It turns out the wipes are for easy cleaning and the plastic bags are for holding objects like coins for homework assignments.) What about the bus form? We take a short trip to the bus stop and then follow the route, with my son pointing the way. He may struggle in some areas, but his sense of direction is amazing. Throughout it all, I try to model a positive outlook about the start of school. If we miss a box of wipes or some crayons, I’m not going to sweat it—there will be chances to pick up things we’ve missed.
For the more difficult back-to-school situations, I rely on our suite of helpful tips and articles:
The key, of course, is maintaining that positive outlook so that my child can start school on the right foot. Happy back-to-school!
Andrew Lee works as Web Editor for LD.org. He strives to make NCLD’s online content relevant, timely and compelling for all who seek to overcome challenges to learning. Andrew lives in New Jersey with his wife and two children.