The thing I love about "the first day of school" is the same thing I love about the new year. Anything is possible. The slate is wiped clean and there is a chance to change things that didn't bring you success the year before. Though I do not have school-age children yet, I am married to a teacher. And I have to tell you, the back-to-school rituals are not so different as you might think. Just like children headed back to school, there is a sense of loss and a sense of anticipation. New supplies are bought, classrooms are reorganized and set-up, plans are worked on, and summer memories are wrapped up to prepare for a new season.
One way I have seen my husband and his students plan for success is by creating mission statements for themselves. My husband has two mottos for his classroom: The first is, "Do the right thing because it's the right thing to do." The second is, "Slow down, pay attention, focus on detail." His goal for the year is not only to teach his students the necessary curriculum, but also, perhaps more importantly, to teach his students to do the right thing and to do their best. These goals come out in every aspect of his teaching.
All this got me thinking...if I had a school-age child, what might his or her mission-statement be? Last year my husband had his students write down an "I will" statement of goals they had for their classroom experience. They wrote them on sticky notes and put them on their desks as a reminder of what their goals were. Each student had different goals, based on what their strengths and weaknesses were and what they wanted to work on. The neat thing is, by the end of the year I saw growth in each student towards their goals. They may not have made the mark completely, as we are all a work in progress. But they had taken steps toward growth and maturity in the areas they had set their minds to.
So maybe as you sit down to lunch with your youngsters in between all your back-to-school clothes and supply shopping, you could ask them: "What is a goal you have for this year?" (If they are older, you could even help them come up with a mission statement or a word to define their hopes for the year). Their goal might be learning to count to 100, it could be making new friends, or it could be improving their GPA. Whatever they choose, write it down and post it on the refrigerator. Encourage them in their goal throughout the year. Maybe it will get tweaked along the way to fit more in line with them and their abilities. In the end they will have taken steps forward, and hopefully felt you cheer-leading them along the way.
Today I am linking up with The Better Mom for "Better Mom Mondays".