Aug 162011

I just took my youngest today to find out who his teacher will be for the year.  I’m sure many of you parents are like me – hoping and praying for a good year for your child – knowing that the teacher your child gets can make all the difference.  It seems this time of year also reminds me of all the teachers we have had over the years who have taught and influenced each of my four kids. We have been blessed with many incredibly gifted teachers.  I’ve always held people who teach in high esteem knowing that they have a very demanding and influential job and do it for not a lot of money.

There is one teacher who happened to have all four of my kids in her classroom.  She is for sure a favorite in my book. She taught my first two in Kindergarten and then my next two in 1st grade.  She always started the year off with parents by handing them a simple lunch bag stuffed with a few items.  I’ve kept one of these bags over the years to remind me what is important as my kids start back to school.  You can use some imagination with the objects or actually make your own bag.

The Parent Survival Kit

It is hard for all of us to get through the day with our kids sometimes. But sometimes humor, or something offbeat helps you stop and take a minute and not be so worried about the education side of things all the time. Each item in this bag is a symbol, a lighthearted reminder of some of the things it never hurts any of us, especially parents, to bear in mind.

The Rubber Band:  Give kids new experiences.  Help them learn the importance of flexibility, of stretching in all directions.  But don’t stretch your kids so far that they break.  Ease up before there’s too much strain.

The Broken Pencil:  Learning (that’s the pencil) isn’t just sit-at-the-desk paper-and-pencil chore (that’s why it’s broken!) Change the pace with clay, beads, dough, needle and thread, hammer and nails…be creative.

The Birthday Candle:  Celebrate life with your child.  Take a trip: surprise him or her with flowers or a “real” letter in the mail, or a note in the lunchbox. Let your child know how special he or she is to you.

The Cord:  Life is not a television program.  Do interesting things that you enjoy together…instead of always watching somebody else do them.

The Yarn:  Think of it as a kite string…and as a reminder to treat your kids like kites.  Let them soar, but don’t let go of the string.

The Do-Not-Disturb Sign:  Everyone, including your child, needs privacy sometimes. Respect that need.

The Penny:  For your child’s thoughts.  Have a conversation, have lots of conversations.  Don’t just tell your children what you think or what they should think.  Find out what they think.  Encourage them to think for themselves and listen.

Oh, the Paper Bag means something too.  If there’s anything that’s really “getting you” about your kid(s)…past misdeeds or misbehaviors….write them down and stuff it in the bag.  Then stomp on it or pop it or throw the whole thing out. Don’t hang onto anger with your kids.  Save the joys, and let the rest go!

So here is to the start of school for those of you who are ready for it and for those of you who aren’t.

I’ll post tomorrow with a “prayer” version of The Parent Survival Kit.


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