Hope all of your sons are settling well into the new school year. Here is a GCP Checklist of things to do/keep your eyes on as the year begins:

Meet the teachers: There will certainly be an open school night or some other formal opportunity to meet teachers, and you shouldn’t miss that. But you should try to meet your son’s teachers informally as soon as possible, especially if your son is in a lower grade. Perhaps during a pick-up, or a drop-off. Just a brief meeting, an opportunity to say hello and tell the teacher how much you are looking forward to a good year. This serves two purposes: 1) It enables you to look the teacher in the eye and get a sense of their personality, which could come in handy if your son comes home with his own critical impressions of the teacher, and you are trying to sort through what is real and what may be imagined; and 2) It lets the teacher know that you are present and focused on your son’s school year in a positive way. It takes a while for teachers to get to know their students and if they have an impression of the families as well it helps round out the picture for them. We are all human, and since the school year may have some dramatic moments for the students, it will be helpful to all if there is an opportunity to start from a positive encounter. If your work schedule precludes a face-to-face, drop him or her a friendly email greeting, explaining that you just wanted to touch base as the school year begins and give the teacher a means of reaching you if needed.

Meet the parents: Even if your son has been in the same class with the same classmates from last year, it is worth taking a bit of time to connect with the parents. How? Make plans to attend a PTA or Parent’s Association meeting. Find a friendly parent who has a child in your class and arrange to have breakfast, coffee, a drink–any opportunity to get together and chat about the school, the teachers, the school year ahead. If it is a parent who spends a lot of time at school, all the better. If you are that parent, make an effort to connect with the working parents who have less time to spend on the premises. We learn so much from talking to parents, and often we don’t make the time to do this. Even if you are hearing more gossip and misinformation, it is valuable data as you try to understand the culture of your school.

Talk to your son: Now that he has more than a few weeks of school under his belt, make the time to talk with him about how things are going. How is he feeling about all of his classes? What extra curricular activities has he joined or is he interested in joining? What sports are he thinking about for the school year? Does he need any additional school supplies? Do any of the courses seem overwhelming already? Now may be a good time to think about how to get extra help, rather than scramble for tutoring help at a critical moment. What is he looking forward to during the school year? What (if anything) concerns him? Please don’t approach your sons with all of these questions written out like a laundry list, unless you don’t want to hear any answers. Just ask one or two at a time in relaxed moments, and he is much more likely to have a thoughtful response.

Use this checklist to make sure your sons start the school year well. If you have other items on your Start the School Year Right Checklist, send them our way!