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Back to school – get ready to learn

YouthZonePatty SchaffnerGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

I remember having very mixed feelings about the return of our children to the local schools for the beginning of yet another school year. On one hand, I felt sad that summer was indeed over and winter loomed ahead. I actually scheduled time in my Day-Timer on the first day of school to fill out the stack of parent forms that my children inevitably toted home. To be honest, I dreaded the “homework scene” that would soon take over the kitchen table and much of my time as far as encouragement and motivation, not to mention assistance. Now, looking back, I realize that I miss those days in many ways.

I miss the time together over an afternoon snack of talking about their day. I noticed that if I asked them how school was, they said “fine” and that was the end of that. However, if I asked them, “What was the best thing that happened at school today?” or the ” … funniest thing that happened today?” or ” … how did your math test go?”, I got a lot more information, which often led to actual discussions about friends, morals and life in general. How fun this was to watch – the person of our children emerging! Often, after a snack and a bit of talk, the kids would pull out their homework assignments and begin their homework. Thankfully, both of the kids really enjoyed school and wanted to excel, so they were fairly self-motivated about their homework. I enjoyed having them at the kitchen table, as I could prepare dinner and be close at hand should they have any questions. We had set aside a drawer in the kitchen, where we kept school supplies so if they needed something for a project, it was readily available for them and we didn’t waste time searching for the red construction paper or a report folder.I miss the fun of watching a science project take form in the garage or on the floor of the family room. I miss trying to figure out with my children how many sugar cubes they might need to build a replica of the Roman Coliseum, and saving cans of various sizes so my child could build his junkman, complete with balloon lungs. I miss being the “audience” for a practice run of the reading of a book report or a prepared speech on a political issue or a song for choir. I miss making games out of flashcards and learning some Latin in the process. I miss finding a salamander in the pond scum that was collected for biology class. I miss the look on the faces of my children when they had an “aha!” by understanding something that previously confused them.

What I realize now is that I learned a lot when my children went to school! So, if you are reading this and are dreading another school year for whatever reason, enjoy this time with your children and get ready to learn!



Patty Schaffner is YouthZone Pals Mentoring Program director.


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