Our View: Happy New Year's Eve to students and parents

Aug. 26, 2013 @ 09:19 AM

A photo has been shared on Facebook during the last few weeks.

It shows a mom and dad sitting in their front yard toasting with glasses of orange juice. At the end of their driveway, you see a child stepping onto the school bus.

The dog days of summer are over.

In ancient Rome, dog days were believed to be an evil time when the sea boiled, wine turned sour, dogs grew mad and all other creatures (probably kids) grew languid.

Many parents know that the end of summer can be a difficult time.

Vacations have been taken. The fun of few responsibilities has worn off. Siblings are working on each other’s last nerve. And the sound of their bickering fills the house.

Tomorrow our children will step on that school bus, and parents will breathe a sigh of relief.

While  grownups mark our New Year on Jan. 1, with parties and resolutions to lose weight and do things better, this is the start of the new year for kids.

This is the time when all things are possible. Students have a clean slate. No homework is late or missing. Their folders and notebooks are shiny and smooth. Their new school shoes still smell new.

Motivation is at its peak.

Parents can help keep that motivation going throughout the year by showing interest and encouragement.

Instead of, “How was your day?” — which almost always ends in “fine” — ask questions that get them talking.

What did you learn today?

What do you have for homework?

What was the best moment of your day?

What did you do really well today?

Give real praise for good grades, improved handwriting, time spent on homework.

Don’t have a kid? Get one. There are more than 32,000 elementary school students in our area eligible for a lunch buddy. Once or twice a week, over fish sticks and tater tots, you can ask these questions to a student who may not have that support at home. Call the Guilford County Schools’ district relations office to learn more: 336-370-8100. Your attention can make a huge difference in a student’s year. There’s no way that won’t make you feel great.

And parents, tomorrow morning, raise that glass of orange juice high and toast the new year.