Thursday, September 1, 2011

Time of Year

It is that time of year again. Back to school for millions of kids across the nation. But what will kids encounter when they return? They will have the new backpacks and new folders, cool, pens and pencils and other stuff to get their school experience up and running while being cool. They will also find classrooms that are more crowded, teachers that are less skilled in some cases and the big pink gorilla in the school remains bullying. Schools have had to cut their budgets, so teachers who have a long history of teaching experience may have been replaced with newer teachers who may not have all the tools at their disposal that the veterans do. Also, some schools are moving to a 4 day week instead of 5. Big changes that will impact kids as they return to their job of going to school. Parents too feel the stress of the return. They have to buy all the necessary supplies which seems to get longer and more complicated a the years go by. Used to, a box of crayons, scissors, a ruler and two pencils would get you through the lower grades. Not any more. Elementary school lists rival a families shopping list for a week.Parents are now trying to figure out how to manage a 4 day school week. What are they going to do with their kids on day 5, especially if parents work and most do. What is the cost of a day of child care? Will that tilt the budget over the edge? Schools are trying to save money by trying the 4 day week thing but what about families?

 Where will these kids go? Will there be a huge number of kids who have no adult supervision on day 5 of the week?  It remains to be seen.Creative parenting gets a chance to be highlighted!
  Back to my gorilla now. Bullying has not decreased since the last school yer. In fact a return to school will undoubtedly add a whole new group of kids that will become targets for bullies. It will depend upon a number of things including the expertise of the teachers in the schools, the mind set of the administrators of the school and the overall policy of the school district. Every year kids group together in their own social groups and in doing that, some kids will be left out as :different:" than the core group. That perceived difference will be the basis for bullying behaviors. What's more, these bullies now have the entire technological array at their disposal. Kids cannot escape from the bullying by simply going home and closing the door. Now cell phones follow them wherever they go. One thing parents can do to help their kids with this cyber attack is to make a rule of now cell phones after 7 pm. Also have a central place where cell phones are parked to charge. Not in their rooms where they will continue to get alerts of a text or addition to their Facebook accounts. Set limits om internet use. Monitor those social media sites, even if your kid is totally trustworthy. They may encounter a bully they have no idea how to handle. Talk to your kids about this issue. Let them know what they need to do if they  find themselves the target of bullies either in the flesh or via technology. Know who your kids are hanging out with . Know who their friends are in person and in cyberspace. Knowing this could also prevent a predator from finding your child. It all comes down to being prepared for the new school year, financially, supply wise, game plans , and child care. It comes down to parents  being involved in their child's educational experience. Talk to the teachers, talk to the principle and the administrators. Know what your schools policy is on bullying and how to report an incident. Above all, know your kids and what they are doing. Talk to them and find out about their day, every day. Being an involved parent is the best thing you can do to help your kiddo have a good educational experience. Good luck and remember to turn off the cell phone and just talk to each other.
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