Back to School Advice for Parents

Summer isn’t what it used to be. Back in my day everyone got off on the same day and went back the same day. Now it’s all over the place; some went two weeks ago, some are going tomorrow, some are going after Labor Day.


I can barley keep track of my own kids schedule, let alone some one else’s.

For the first time in ten years we only have one kid in school. The good part of that is we only had to fill out one set of those horrendous emergency card packets. The down side is that my oldest isn’t going to college. I’m pretty sure 12th grade was his school finish line. And that’s okay. For as much as he struggled when he was in school, I can’t see the upside of making him go to school when it’s voluntary.

That’d be like volunteering to get stung by a stun gun.

Why? Why would you do that?

During one of his 24,508,318th parent-teacher conference I remember his Second Grade Teacher telling us “this is only the beginning of your struggles…”

Knowing what we know now, that was very prophetic of her to say.

But I am seriously okay with him not going to college. To force a kid into doing something he never ever wanted to do, and when he did do it he didn’t do it very well, just doesn’t make sense.

But, there is a downside to that.

In life, you get what you pay for.

I really believe that school is more than reading, writing and arithmetic. It’s training for life. The school work is almost secondary to the life skills you learn. While I am okay with Frankie not going off into higher education, it was never our plan. We never gave up on making him be the best he could be. School was always a priority. We didn’t let him sit around and play X-Box because he didn’t want to do his schoolwork. He sat there and stared at it. Day after day, week after week. he didn’t hang out with friends, he didn’t watch TV, he didn’t do anything because he wouldn’t do his school work.

That was his choice.

But to Cheryl and I, him not doing an assignment was more than him not learning the subject matter. It was a lack of discipline. It was a lack of respect for both his teachers and Cheryl and I. It was a lack of ambition.

It was like yelling FUCK YOU to anyone who would listen.

Life isn’t handed to anyone. You work for it. You earn it. Do the work and get the grade or half ass it and get what you get. It’s the same as life. With both a job or a relationship. You get what you put into it.

Frankie didn’t learn that in school. We tried to hold him accountable, but the day he graduated he still believed he deserved better than the effort he put into it. And now, he’s living his own life and figuring out that life is hard. Nothing is handed to him, things don’t go away until you take care of them and that no one is going to jump in and save the day.

If you want it done, you have to do it yourself.

You learn how to get along with people and how to get along with people you don’t like. Over the course of your school years you are bound to end up with a teacher you don’t like. Get over it. There isn’t a rule that says you have to like your teacher or the other kids in your class. Chances are you are going to end up with a boss or two you don’t like along the way and learning to deal with that in 4th grade is way better than trying to figure it out when you are an adult.

You are going to get told no. You are going to have deadlines, some of them may not be fair and you are going to have to work on the weekend to get it done. You are going to have to give up something you want to do to make room for something you have to do. You are going to have to make tough choices, meet deadlines and do more work than you think is fair. Letting your kids learn that now is a blessing. Jumping in and trying to ‘fix’ it, or talk to the teacher is sending the wrong message. Unless you plan on barging into their place of employment when they are 33 year old and doing the same thing, then let them figure it out now.


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