Many students have returned to school after 1.5 years outside of the physical classroom, and some will be starting soon after Labor Day. As parents cipher through their schools and classes Back-to-School supplies list, it would be remiss of me not to highlight the non-traditional checklist that is oftentimes overlooked and put on the backburner and/or not even checked at all- the students academic, socio-emotional, and character “checklist” for the new school year. In addition to making sure a student has every supply and uniform (if applicable) they need to be prepared for intellectual growth, the question begs- what is on your checklist for their academic, socio-emotional and character growth?
What this means is that in addition to making sure each student has their school supplies, it is equally if not more important to sit with your student to map out what their goals are for themselves academically, socio-emotionally, and as it relates to their character development, to foster innately good members of society. It is also important to map out how your parent-child relationship can be better and/or stronger as you traverse a new school year. For example, some good talking points to help guide the informal yet collaborative conversation include (all do not need to be discussed/checked off, let the conversation unfold organically and be an ongoing conversation):
- What have you learned about yourself this past academic year? e.g.- how you learn best, how strong and versatile you are, what are your favorite and least favorite subjects, etc.?
- How can those lessons learned be applied to this school year to make you an even better person?
- How has our parent-child relationship been? (NOTE- this question requires a historically positive and open rapport, a fostered safe space, and positive relationship dynamic and environment where the child feels comfortable sharing their truth without risk of the consequence of reprimand or resentment from the parent)
- How can our relationship be better- what can you do and what can I do?
- What do you need from me as your parent, to support your success this school year?
- What can we both commit to doing to continuously improve our relationship?
- What are your academic goals for this school year? (e.g.- all A’s, a 3.0 minimum, etc.)
- What subjects will you be taking this school year and what are your letter grade goals for each class?
- What will be required of you to reach each of the goals you have for each class?
- How can I support you in the acquisition of your academic goals? What would you need from me?
- Which class do you think may be the most challenging? Why?
- How do you think that challenge can be overcome?
- Which class do you think you will like most? Why?
- How will you know you are on the right track or if you have to revisit your goals?
- What forms of accountability would be most helpful for you? e.g.- weekly check-ins, bi-weekly, monthly, progress report reviews as a family unit, report card reviews as a family unit, etc.
- What are your goals as it relates to your socio-emotional growth, e.g.- to have more patience, to take time for myself, to not get angry as quickly as I do, to be more physically active which can help with self-regulation, to exhibit more self-control, to share how I feel, to communicate more honestly, authentically, and often, etc.
- How will you go about working on your socio-emotional goals?
- How will you know you are on the right track or if you should recalibrate?
- How can I support you in the acquisition of your goals?/What do you need from me to help you reach your goals?
- What forms of accountability would be most helpful for you? e.g.- weekly check-ins, bi-weekly, monthly, monthly parent and child brunch dates as a form of checking-in/accountability, etc.
- What are your character building goals for this school year? e.g.- take on a leadership role in a school club, join a club to develop social skills, community service once a week, get a job to teach responsibility, etc.
- What areas of your character are you most proud of and pleased with? Why?
- What areas of your character do you desire to improve upon? e.g.- being more reliable, responsible, of greater service to my community, more caring, etc.
- How will you go about working on these goals?
- What lessons can you use from what you are most proud of character-wise to help you with the areas you desire to improve upon?
- How will you know you are on the right track?
- How can I as a parent, guardian, etc. support you in reaching the goals you have set for yourself?
- What forms of accountability would be most helpful for you? e.g.- weekly check-ins, bi-weekly, monthly, family community service activity, etc.
These are a few sample (of a potential many) guiding questions to help facilitate the conversation (curate as you see fit). It could also help for the student and parent to create a vision board (recommendation- create individual boards together, entitled for example- STUDENT’S NAME development goals 2021-2022 academic year, PARENT’S NAME development goals 2021-2022 academic year) that outlines concrete goals for each category (academic, socio-emotional, character) related to the student. A board for the parent and one for the child is a great no pressure and informal bonding activity between student and parents. Have them posted somewhere visible in your room, bathroom, breakfast nook, etc. where you all are guaranteed to see it daily. This creates a united familial front and team effort approach to the students’ growth and development, and conveys the message that the parent has as much opportunity and desire to grow with the child throughout the process as possible because the child’s growth and development are important to the parent.
What is included on your (non-traditional) back-to-school checklist, in partnership with your student?
Questions? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with any parenting questions or advice that you seek, or with any topics that you would like us to cover. Cheers to a successful academic year!