September: Changes in the Air

By Joanne Foster, Ed.D.

This is a blog that I actually wrote a couple of years ago but that I think bears repeating. Every September, countless parents revisit the challenges of kids returning to school, while other parents experience this “rite of passage” for the first time. Perhaps the information that follows here will be helpful during Sept. 2013, and beyond.

September is traditionally the time when children start a new school year. Many kids navigate the change from leisure to learning without a hitch, whereas others find it more difficult to settle into “back to school” mode. Parents often ask us, “How can we help children during this transitional period—and through the months ahead?”

Here are four tips for success:

#1 – Be attuned to what’s happening in your children’s lives. Listen. Observe. Don’t be pushy or annoying. (Kids HATE that!) Do make an unobtrusive effort to be more “in-the-know” about the highs, lows, and rollercoaster moments in their lives. Parents who stay on top of things are better positioned to advise, guide, and trouble-shoot more effectively.

#2 – Respect children’s views, honour their interests, and try to accommodate their learning preferences. Children learn in different ways. However, they learn best when they are happy, appropriately challenged, and motivated.

#3 – Give children access to relevant, stimulating learning opportunities—along with whatever else they might need to enable learning to happen as seamlessly as possible (including materials, work space, ample sleep, and nutritional food).

#4 – Be available to offer reinforcement and encouragement. Acknowledge children’s efforts, and help them see the value of a strong work ethic.

As September morphs into October, and the school year revs into full gear, be both watchful and wise, and be ready to advocate for your children, if necessary. (More on that elsewhere. See the resources page at and blog postings at

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