Disclaimer: Although I am not certain “belly flopper” is an actual term, I am using it to describe a person who belly flops figuratively speaking.
Over the weekend, my wife told me that my oldest child is going to start school in two weeks. My first thought was where has the summer gone? School supplies have already been bought and there’s nothing to worry about. When my wife told my son about going back to school; he looked surprised but acted ready.
For a lot of families, what I described isn’t exactly the norm. Parents stress about school shopping and the stress passes along to their child. Parents stress about the next grade and the stress passes along to their child. Parents stress about the teacher and……..you get the picture.
Being the on the other side of the desk as the teacher, I watched these stressed parents year in and year out. Some children were unfazed by their parent’s stresses but others took their cue and had a lot of stress at the beginning of the school year.
Secretly, I thought of these kids as “the belly floppers.” The impact of returning to school for these children was like belly flopping into water off a cliff. They knew school was going to happen but the “landing” was shocking. The children who “belly flopped” were always the ones who looked like they were in a trance the first week of school. It was almost like school work was foreign and they didn’t remember the most basic concepts taught the previous year.
There may be some who are reading this and do not quite realize how serious this can be so let me put it this way. I only could think of 3 children, in all my years of teaching, who “belly flopped” into school and finished in the top half of my class academically. All children settled down mentally in my classroom eventually. But, perhaps the stress and/or lost time were too much to overcome. I would argue it was at least a contributing factor.
I would like the children of anyone who reads this to be the opposite of a “belly flopper.” There are many kids who enter school hitting the ground running. Teachers like love these types of children. Here are some suggestions on how your child can hit the ground running.
1. School shop early. When you get the supply list, beat the procrastinators and make school shopping a pleasant experience with your child. I would even suggest things like buying the backpack your child chooses (if it’s within your means) because it gives a child that little something extra to look forward to going back to school. You may spend a couple of extra dollars on their preferred choice; but your child will be in a better frame of mind going to school.
2. Meet the teacher(s). Schools usually have times when parents and kids can get situated and drop off supplies in their classrooms before the first day of school. They get to pick their desk and get the general lay of the land. This drastically decreases the shock on the first day. Teachers like seeing the parents before the school year begins. They keep mental notes of which parents go out of their way to meet them. A favorable impression is important and will most likely be passed along to your child. It’s human nature.
3. Start the school year with your child before it begins. You can do this by purchasing an inexpensive workbook that correlates with the grade your child is going into. The child will get a feel of the material that will be taught. Also, when the child runs across a concept that they don’t understand, they can get help from you before the school year begins. This also greatly decreases the shock value of a difficult school lesson during the school year. When other children are struggling with the material, your child will look like a star.
Returning to school can be rough for some children. I wish all of your children the best of luck!!!
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