Back-to-School: A Parent's Guide
Here are some tips for parents and guardians as they get their children ready to go back to school and the music classroom
This school year, we are returning to in-person learning for the second year since the start of the pandemic. While children were in school last year, in Los Angeles County there were still pivots and changes throughout the year involving hybrid learning and social distancing. Our September Blog shares, “Having to isolate for so long and then returning to a year of still being apart within the same room was difficult for building life skills. Many children missed out on the opportunity to learn how to function within a larger community or social setting.”
Director of Programs Deidre Racoma also states, “As a parent myself, I struggled as to whether or not I could give enough support and guidance to my children while also being understanding to their teachers who were working tirelessly to pivot to a new type of teaching.” Not only does going back to school require meeting basic physical needs and safe classrooms, but preparing children socially and emotionally.
To help prepare parents and guardians, here are 4 ways to support children as they get ready to go back to school and the music classroom.
Listen & Connect
Children really do have a mind of their own. They have their own worlds, relationships unique to them, and a lens quite different from their parent’s or guardian’s. School age children are going through changes socially, intellectually, emotionally, and physically every year (Healthline.com, December, 2019). It is vital to stay in touch with their personal life outside of home and family. Here are some quick tips:
- Be Specific when you ask how their day went. Ask them who they sat with, what they ate, what their favorite activity was, or what they did in music class. This will help them reflect on their day and share it with you.
- Remember details of what they share with you. When they begin to tell you a story or new interest, remember it, and bring it up again later. They will feel so special that you want to bring up a topic they enjoy.
- Validate their feelings. According to childmind.org, “Not all problems need fixing; sometimes kids just want to be able to talk about these upsets without expecting you to fix them; sometimes kids just want parents to validate their feelings and say, ‘I know that’s hard.’” (Childmind.org, August, 2022)
Remember that a parent-child relationship takes communication like any other relationship. Strive to constantly “get to know” your child.
Routine & Time Management
Unlike adults, time management is not a skill children are working on. There is a responsibility that children have when it comes to homework, projects, and extracurriculars. We cannot expect them to handle this all on their own. So here are tips to help teach your child time management, without handling it for them:
- Help your child create their own schedule. Pick a time of day that you connect with your child each day and ask them to think ahead about what they need to do that day. If they forget something, remind them then, so they can add it to their list. Students as young as 6 years old can be involved in planning out their day.
- Help prepare their sleep schedule by having them go to bed earlier on days they have to be up. If they want to stay up, ask them to walk through what it would be like to be tired or late in the morning. If they begin to walk through poor time management consequences, they can start to plan ahead on their own.
- Be their safety net. If they have something important due. Gently remind them before it is too late. Everyone forgets things, and developing children are no exception.
The Guidance Center’s Reflective Parenting states, “Gentle or Reflective parenting recognizes that children are simply learning and mistakes are not flaws that must be quickly punished.”
Champion Your Child
For many children, their biggest superheroes are their parents or guardians. It is no surprise that those children draw their firefighter moms, nurse dads, teacher grandparents, or construction worker parents when asked who inspires them. You are someone they look up to most. Take a look at these hero tips to see how you can better champion your child:
- Communicate with the teacher whether your child requires any physical, mental, or emotional accommodation. Teachers and staff are responsible for numerous students. So it helps to get any health forms in and let teachers know any details (i.e. if your child needs an epipen, needs to sit close to the board, or going through a family issue).
- Let them know you see them if your child is expressing a struggle verbally or nonverbally. Believe when they are hurt and don’t rush to assume they are exaggerating.
- Give them space to vent. Sometimes they don’t want to hear a life lesson or solution. They might just be feeling a big emotion or be experiencing something new and they need to express their feelings.
- Remind them you are on their side. If your child starts projecting a sad or angry emotion toward you, remind them that you want to help. Redirect the emotion to the situation and sit in the emotion with them.
Music Class Warm Up
Don’t let music only happen in school. A way to start prepping your students for music-making this year is by bringing the music learning home. Check out these home music activities. We hope your child will have fun with these short activities as they gear up for the start of this school year. You can also try this Mindful Music Warm Up that our music teachers use in their classrooms.
Child Mind Institute – Back to School Dos and Don’ts
ETM-LA – Browse Music Activities
ETM-LA – Mindful Music Warm-Up – “Tuning In”
ETM-LA – Back to School (September 2022 Blog)
The Guidance Center – What Is Reflective Parenting?
Healthline – Ages and Stages: How to Monitor Child Development
Parents – 3 Ways to Help Kids Express Their Feelings
Parents – 4 Ways to Ease Back-to-School Anxiety and Stress
School Family – 7 Things To Tell the Teacher