Envisioning the School Year - How a Team Approach Can Make the Difference

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Envisioning the School Year - How a Team Approach Can Make the Difference
Learn how proper planning your child's school year can improve their learning.
"Coming together is a beginning.
Keeping together is progress.
Working together is success."
-          Henry Ford
What is your vision for the school year? Is academic achievement at the top of the list or will this be the year your child breaks out of his social shell? Will your family grow closer or more distant as they face the challenges of another school year? Who will guide your child’s development?

A vision defines a direction towards a goal. Realizing a vision requires support from a motivated group of individuals; a team of people, who ban together through adversity, acknowledge achievement and inspire motivation.

Who’s on your team?

According to the United States Census Bureau today’s generation of school-age children spend the majority of their waking hours in the care of someone other than their parents. Given the influence that teachers, coaches, mentors and extended family members have on a child’s development the necessity for building a relationship with this group of people has never been greater. Creating a team of focused and motivated individuals who will continually support the ongoing growth of your child requires a new set of parenting skills.

5 Steps to Building Your Support Team
  • Create a roster. Who will impact your child’s life this year? Begin by creating a list of the adults who will connect with your child during the first month of school. Teachers, school administrators, coaches, mentors and extended family members are common additions to most team rosters.
  • Position the players. With a completed team roster identify when and where your child will see these critical people. Teachers and school personnel typically fall within a specified seven hour time block on a regular Monday through Friday schedule. However the afterschool hours are equally important. Identifying who will supervise your child beyond the conclusion of the school day creates an accurate picture of your child’s life and the role that each adult will play this year.
  • Connect. The beginning of a school year marks the start to many new relationships. During the first few weeks of school take 2-minutes to communicate with each person on your roster. Send a written note, email message or share a quick conversation in person. The message to convey is short yet sincere, “Hi, I just wanted you to know how excited I am to have you in my child’s life this year.” This quick introduction sends a powerful message to everyone on your team about the importance of their role on your team.
  • Check-in. Don’t wait until a problem arises to initiate a conversation. Every 2-3 weeks check-in with each of the people on your roster. Start the conversation with, “How are you?” and then let the discussion flow from there. Beginning with an open-ended question allows the conversation about your child to evolve naturally. Leading questions like, “How was her behavior today?” or “Were there any problems?” bring immediate focus to a potentially negative set of comments that result in creating greater distance between parents and key adults in their child’s life. The opportunity to share positive comments or questions is lost amidst the negativity.
  • Celebrate. Reaching milestones and achieving goals is cause for celebration. Placing a quick call to your child’s teacher after the conclusion of class play or project shows acknowledgement and appreciation—two characteristics of supportive teams. The more often team members celebrate together the stronger the relationship grows.
Maintaining the Home Team
School, sports and a variety of other extracurricular interests challenge a family’s ability to stay connected during the school year. Before the back-to-school routine begins to take hold, think about how you would like your family to be this year. How often does everyone come together to share a meal, enjoy a weekend afternoon, or share a conversation? With a clear picture of how you would like your family to be the path to realizing this ideal becomes clearer.
Soliciting participation and support for the home team takes time and an ongoing effort. The “Picture, Plan and Promote” strategy can be a powerful way to bring family members together in a way that benefits everyone.
Picture. Take 5-minutes to recall the events that bring your family together in meaningful ways. Sharing a meal, enjoying a movie and family trips garner the top spots on many lists.
Plan. With a list of potentially engaging activities find the family calendar and look for opportunities to designate as “family time”. Plotting a date on the calendar increases the possibility of going to the beach, sharing a picnic or taking a weekend excursion ten-fold.
Promote. If spending time together as a family has not been a regular part of the weekly routine there may be some apprehension or, in some cases, strong opposition to planned family gatherings. By including everyone in the planning process, family time becomes a group effort where everyone has something invested. In the Moran family everyone is responsible for preparing one part of the weekly family dinner. As a teacher and a mom, Dee knows the importance of investing in family together time. “Our six-year-old likes making ice cream sundaes, so dessert is usually his contribution. Julie, our thirteen-year-old typically opts for an original creation of vegetables or fruit. Sharing dinner together as a family keeps us talking and working together.” – Dee Moran
Using the “Picture, Plan and Promote” strategy creates an initial boost of energy and motivation among family members that can launch the home team forward in September.
Bringing the valued members of your team together both, at home and in the community, allows your vision to become a reality. Celebrating the fulfillment of a vision inspires motivation for continued success. Enjoy the year ahead with your family.
Joe Bruzzese, MA, is a leading parent expert for the middle school years, author of A Parent’s Guide to the Middle School Years and co-founder of ThinkingForwardTV.com, the online resource for middle school parents. Visit the web site at www.ThinkingForwardTV.com for practical resources including DVDs, online courses, seminars, speaking engagements and comprehensive coaching services for thriving during the middle school years.

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