If it takes a village to raise a child, imagine what it’s like on an island with no village…stressful! As the school year gets underway for the kids, I wanted to give single parents (and those who feel like single parents) some powerful tips to manage the school year.
· Continue to have meaningful family time that is not based on the extracurricular activity schedule and grades. We have to be very intentional about sending the message that family is a priority and family time is not earned.
· Don’t wait until you get the report card to ask about progress and grades. This may be especially critical for older children who are no longer bringing home Homework Folders for parent signatures. Log on to parent portals and have encouraging dialog along the way.
· Encourage your child to get involved. As single parents, you may assume you have to do it all and miss opportunities for your children to help you help them. This means to teach him to advocate for himself in an effective way (if developmentally appropriate). For example, let’s say your daughter knows she is not doing well in language arts. Rather than you immediately contacting the teacher for extra credit on her behalf, ask your daughter how she has already tried to help herself. Then ask what her options are and help her think through each choice. This approach not only sends the message that academic achievement is important but nurtures character development that can be applied in non-academic settings.
· Know your child’s learning style. Single parents often make the mistake of assuming the children is exactly like the person raising them. Not so! Perhaps your son has a different learning style so do not take it personal if your tutoring is not effective. Be willing to ask for outside help and influence.
· Focus on effort and not outcome. Single parents face a lot of demands and stress, so they can become very critical of themselves and the kids. Kids may struggle to meet your spoken/unspoken expectations. Be careful not to overlook hard work just become the outcome was not favorable only reinforce A1 scores/grades, top class ranks, first place, etc. While it is hard to be the coach and the cheerleader as a single parent, remember that your voice can soon echo and become their thoughts. Let them hear you validate yourself, them, and others by praising attributes like perseverance, determination, dedication and discipline.
**You can do this!!**
~Dr. Q. Perry