#WorthRevisit: Mrs. Quimby’s 6 Best Back-to-School Tips for Parents (and one from me)

Worth revisiting today: a back-to-school article I published at RealHousekeeping.com earlier this year. Two months in, this is a good time for students and parents to evaluate those homework habits.
Back-to-School-Tips-from-Mrs-Quimby-@realhousemagEven though my personality has always been way more Beezus than Ramona, I’ve always loved Beverly Cleary’s Ramona series. Now that I’m a parent, I notice the many ways Ramona’s mom has been a sort of parenting mentor for me.

Mrs. Quimby is absolutely not a helicopter parent. She fosters independence in her children when it comes to schoolwork, helping around the house, and entertaining themselves. Here’s how she does it:

Set clear expectations. In the Quimby household, everyone knew what was expected of them regarding homework, study, chores, and behavior. There were no surprises, and routines were in place to make sure things got done.

Hold firm. Mrs. Quimby, while compassionate, stuck to her guns regarding things that mattered: respectful behavior, schoolwork, chores, and saving money. Temper tantrums did not sway her. Once, when Ramona squeezed an entire tube of toothpaste into the sink, she made Ramona spoon it all into a container and use it until it was gone.

Be prepared. Ramona’s parents always made sure she had plenty of paper and crayons—the supplies she needed as a primary-grade student. I take my cue from Mrs. Quimby by stocking up on extras of the items on my children’s school supply lists, and I make sure to lay in a supply of poster board at the beginning of the school year to avoid those Sunday night runs to the office supply store.

Step aside. Mrs. Quimby knew that schoolwork was not her job. She created the environment for study, made sure everyone was prepared, then required her children to do what was assigned them. No hovering, no hand-holding, no nonsense.

Allow for a mess. She stepped over a large sheet of paper stretched across her kitchen floor for a couple of weeks while Ramona, along with her dad, illustrated a map of the state.

Leave room for kids to learn from their mistakes. Mrs. Quimby wasn’t one to hover over her kids, protecting them from ever making a wrong decision. She knew that mistakes can lead to learning experiences, and she (wisely) didn’t make a huge deal about it when they did. There was the time that Beezus, wanting to avoid a home haircut, saved her money to get a new salon ‘do…which wound up going very wrong, Mrs. Quimby offered a shoulder to cry on and a closed mouth. No “I told you so” lecture; just a listening ear.

I get the feeling Ramona’s mom would wholeheartedly endorse my own homework policy: “It’s not done until it’s packed!” I’ve been repeating that sentence several times a week for nearly two decades now. It’s all about the follow-through, kids!

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worth revisit

I’m linking up with Reconciled to You and Theology is a Verb for #WorthRevisit Wednesday, a place where you can come and bring a past & treasured post to share, and link up with fellow bloggers!

Anticipatory Joy

Every September it’s the same.

I run into moms who are either:

  • sad to see summer vacation end, or
  • sad that their child is growing up and advancing to the next grade.

They’re on Facebook and Twitter confessing their own tears as their child boards the school bus. They’re in ShopRite and Target wishing the summer would never end.

And I feel like there’s something wrong with me, because I don’t get it. On either count.

I like the beginning of a new school year:  the new pencils, new planners, new crayons and new notebooks. I like checking the school website to see who’ll be my child’s teacher this year. I like getting the email with the soccer schedule. I like seeing the bus roll up the hill toward the house on the first day.

I also like the structure that the school year provides. Summer is way too loose, too open-ended for my taste, even with soccer camp and theater camp to keep a kid busy on a regular basis.

The first day of school doesn’t make me cry for the loss of the freedom of summer OR over the fact that my kids are growing older.

Yes, I deeply miss the two who are now out of the house (one working and living on his own, and one in college). But I’m also deeply proud of them, and excited about their new adventures.

For me, September is a joyful time. It’s a time for a new start, full of possibility and potential.

While I’m not the parent dancing down the aisle in that Staples commercial, I do think this is a wonderful time.

The trick this year, for me, is to stop feeling ashamed of that back-to-school anticipation and to embrace the challenge of making this a wonderful school year all around.