Thursday, August 27, 2009

School Year's Resolutions

When my nephew came home from his first day of kindergarten, his mother was excited to hear about his day. In the most dejected voice, Zach said, “It was awful. They didn’t even teach us how to read.”

I don’t remember much about my first day of kindergarten, but I do remember carrying my orange Holly Hobbie lunch box and posing for a “first day of school” photo before I headed to the bus stop.

I distinctly remember feeling very official. I had a great sense of hope and anticipation on the first day of school that carried me through college.

I mostly loved school, but for me, going back to school meant a brand new beginning and a chance to do things differently. I doubt that in kindergarten I had many regrets. But by first grade I treated the first day of school the way some people treat New Year’s Resolutions: This year I’m going to remember to read the cafeteria menu the night before and pack a lunch when they serve beef-a-roni (or barf-a-roni, as we came to call it).

By junior high I was showing a little more intellectual ambition: This year I’m not going to forget that I have homework until I’m sitting at the bus stop the next morning.

By high school: This year I’m going to go to bed early and try not to fall asleep during precalculus.

By college, the words had changed, but the intention was still the same: This semester I’m going to read every assignment the professor suggests…from start to finish…and not wait until the morning before class. (This resolution, I sadly must report, was never achieved. Not even close.)

Every child has great expectations and ambitions for what the year will bring, whether good or bad. Talk to your child and figure out what those expectations are. Really listen and find out if the expectations need a little management, as Zach’s obviously needed, or whether those expectations can be put into attainable goals that you can help your child achieve. Packing a lunch on the days they served beef-a-roni was an achievable goal. Learning to read in one day is not. (But cheers to Zach for having that kind of ambition!)

Fall is a great time to make some new (school) year’s resolutions for you and your kids. What will they be?

4 comments:

Secret Asian Man said...

Woohoo! Well said, TJ!!! :)

Jessie said...

I love this idea of New Year's resolutions in the fall. For those of us in education, it makes so much more sense than the arbitrary January 1st resolution time! This year, my resolution is to slow down a little. Take the time to get to know the children on a personal level. Make sure that what I bring to them is relevant and important. And to have some fun along the way.

Dr. Jones said...

I think that this is a good way to look at the first day of school...a fresh start. Many children, unfortunately, now focus on the material things associated with the beginning of school, rather than what a new school year might mean educationally. Just yesterday I was talking with my stepsons about the beginning of the school year, and before they could say anything else they began to rail off a list of the clothes that they just had to have, and this luxury and that luxury, before school started. I want to thank you TJ for making me pause and think about this experience...rather than get annoyed with my stepsons for their materialistic ways, all teenagers are a bit materialistic after all, I should have changed the subject and asked them what they wanted out of school this year, what they were expecting. Perhaps then they would realize that I care about their own thoughts and feelings, they would have thought more deeply about what school is really all about, and forgotten that they just had to have that new Volcom shirt...no, they would still remember the shirt, but perhaps the questions would be more meaningful than cotton.

Mary Larsen said...

I love back to school - even though I haven't been back to school for many many years. And for exactly the reasons you stated - every fall feels like spring to me - a new beginning.