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Sticky situation: 10 Back-to-School Guidelines

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Tetra Images via Getty Images
Tetra Images via Getty Images

Woo hoo, you did it! Your children are fully equipped and ready for 2014-2015 school year.

You have checked off every single thing on their list of supplies. Every item is identified. The right shoes are in the right bag, ready for their first gym class. Your hallway is lined with their backpacks and the lunch boxes are on the counter, ready to be filled. You even got the snowsuits covered. Costco had them in July; the kids needed them and you just happened to receive a small bonus that week. Virtual high five, right here! You are singing and doing the "Happy" dance.

You and your family are ready. The only thing left for you to do is to wish for competent, caring teachers that will make learning fun for all of your beautiful, darling children.

Really?

Solution(s):

A good school year is not just the responsibility of the teachers. You, and even your children, can have a positive influence on making this school year a great one.

The back-to-school routine includes healthy lifestyle habits and they should also include civility and good manners. They are essential for a harmonious triangle between the school, the child and his parents.

First and foremost, as a parent, introduce yourself to all those who contribute to a safe and healthy learning environment. They include: the bus driver, the administrative support staff, the principal, the lunch and cleaning personnel along with the teachers, specialists and cross guards. All of these adults will now have faces for the parents in the triangle. In presenting yourself you are positively opening the lines of communication.

All of these adults have a very precious power. They can make your child feel good at school and hence about learning. That is a very good thing.

Do your part in the triangle with these 10 guidelines.

As a parent:

1. Trust the teachers and the school's staff; while being alert and getting involved.

Recognize that your child's teacher is not your opponent. Having been a substitute teacher, let me assure you that teachers do not take pleasure in calling you, writing to you or having to meet with you to talk about behaviour improvement. They do it for the welfare of your child and that of the class.

Admit it and recognize it when your child also displays the same disruptive behaviour at home.

Yes, that is our Suzie. She can't sit still, even at the dinner table.

When possible, volunteer for in school, or field trip activities. This will give you an insider's view of your child's world and its dynamics.

With high school students, encourage your teenagers to manage their own affairs.

For example, when there is dissatisfaction with a grade received.

"I am disappointed with my grade. Could we please meet to talk about it?" "What can I do to improve my grade next time?"

I know. This is difficult to do. Even as adults we are uncomfortable approaching our superiors to voice a concern. But, in coaching your teen along, you are giving him the chance to develop those oh-so-important interpersonal skills and his autonomy. As a bonus, imagine the pride he will feel as a result of having resolved this one on his own, without having you call, write or go to his school. #Priceless

2. Contact the school according to the protocol that is in place without stepping on the toes or skipping steps.

If you disagree with your child's teacher, contact her first. Do not immediately go to the principal. After approaching the teacher, if you decide to go a step above, tell her.

I believe that this situation is not yet resolved. I will communicate with the principal so he can help us resolve this situation.

Exceptions for going directly to the principal are racial, sexual, or violent comments or actions.

3. Keep the teacher informed of the events your child's life.

Moving, a change in caregivers, a loved one or a pet that dies, are all very important changes for your child. Any disruptive happening may have an impact on your child's behaviour at school. When they occur, take a moment to write a note, inform and seek the support of a specialist, if needed.

4. Be responsible for your parental obligations. If you don't, it could be embarrassing for your child and have repercussions.

• Read the memos that your child brings home.
• Sign when required.
• Pay monies on time, or make arrangements.
• Send appropriate snacks.
• And most importantly, make sure that your child is rested, present and on time.

Just like at work, an employee who is late or absent suffers from what he has missed. He has to catch up. At school, it's your child who will suffer the consequences for lateness and absenteeism.

5. Acknowledge and value with words and actions the influence that the adults in your child's school life have.

It's quick and easy. Write a note in the agenda. Send a sticky thank you note. Do it in person when dropping off, or picking up, your child.

Take the time to inform the principal, or the employee's superior, for extra good deeds. A simple email will do. This attention is the most effective way that a parent can contribute to a positive evaluation in the career of a school system employee, especially for teachers.

For your children, teach them:

1. Greet everyone that you meet with your eyes and your smile, when you arrive, leave and during your walkabouts.

You are a contagious joy agent.

2. Use your magic words: please, thank you, my pleasure and you are welcome.

When someone inquires about you and your activities, ask questions in return.

3. Be respectful of
• Things: your desk, your chair, the textbooks, all classroom materials, your school supplies and those of your classmates.
• Ideas, opinions, and comments from your classmates, with your words and your gestures. No rolling of the eyes or finger pointing.

4. Play fair.

When you win, be modest in front of those that did not win. Do not boast or brag.

It was fun playing together. I hope we will have the chance to do it again.

If you lose, congratulate the winner without rancor, bitterness or sarcasm.

"Well done! I can't wait to play with you again."

5. Excuse yourself when:
• Your body makes natural sounds like burps and farts. Yes, it is OK to giggle while apologizing.
• You hurt someone.
• You break something.

In short, keep the tip of the school-child-parents triangle -- your child's well-being -- at the top of your concerns. It's not them (the school) against you. When in doubt, ask yourself this next question.

How will these words or gestures have an impact with the relationships that my child has outside of our home?

Choose to influence positively with your words and actions. They have a ripple effect. They flow from your home to the school and from the school to the community. Their consequences will be in how the other adults in your child's life will treat him or her.

Have a great school year!

You have a sticky situation at work or home? This is your forum. Write to Julie and she will reply promptly. Want more solutions to sticky situations? Go to Facebook, Twitter and order your autographed copy of Etiquette: Confidence & Credibility. Planning a conference? Julie happily travels coast to coast and beyond, to present customized activities.

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