Ahh, the first day of school. Can’t you just smell it? The new backpacks, clean sneakers, nerves and anticipation?
As I write, teachers and administrators are beginning to plan their classrooms, gather supplies and schedule meetings.
Parents are thinking about school shopping, doctor’s appointments, volleyball practices, senior photos and getting everyone back on a schedule.
And our kids? Well they’re on the cusp of a year full of new experiences, relationships, growth and lessons every day, in the classroom and in the classroom of life.
As parents to two young daughters, the back to school rush and jitters are still a few years away for us. But this time of year, when the hay crop is up, the ditches are full of clover and wild sunflowers and the heat of the sun puts red on the tomatoes and kicks up dust behind the trucks on our gravel road, I can’t help but think of those late August, early morning bus rides to the little country school down the road sitting next to my best friend with her fresh freckled face. It would still be hot, so we’d wear shorts, our bare legs sticking to the seats as we squirmed and schemed about the type of games we were going to play before the teacher stepped outside to ring that little hand bell and we all ran inside for class.
Those were the days of landline phones and Oregon Trail computer games and cable TV shows complete with commercials. The only cell phone we’d ever seen was the one Zach Morris used on Saved by the Bell.
Our teachers used chalk instead of smart boards and we learned to type on typewriters. And if it was “movie day” our teacher rolled in the TV on a stand to pop in a VHS tape. It doesn’t seem like that long ago, but these days if you measure time by the changes in technology, it sometimes seems like my childhood existed in another lifetime. I mean, if I wanted to call my friend or my boyfriend, I had to go through whatever parent answered the phone first.
Forget texting and Facetime video call. That was something only seen on the Jetsons.
When our kids are Snapchatting, taking selfies, fighting us for more time playing games on the iPad and finding new reasons for us to worry about screen time, it’s easy to throw our hands up and declare our exasperation for “kids these days.” And while time will continue to change the way we communicate, work and worry, I think it helps us to remember that regardless of the tools we use to get there, the fundamental piece to the learning puzzle is the time we spend involved in our children’s lives and learning.
All the apps and educational programming can’t compete with you—you reading a book to her at night, you shooting hoops in the driveway with him, you asking questions at the supper table, you sitting side by side on movie night, you in the audience cheering her on…
Our resident guidance counselor expands on the importance of parent involvement in our children’s education in this back to school issue, which will be the last print addition of Prairie Parent.
Because just as our kids are adapting to the changing times and technology, parents are too, consuming most of our information on our computers and smart phones while waiting in our cars for our kids to finish up dance class or karate. And so we will continue to create useful, informative and entertaining content for our Prairie Parents month after month, but it will be solely available on our website prairieparent.com and on our Facebook and Instagram pages. We look forward to continuing to connect and converse, answering your questions, taking your suggestions and sharing this crazy, weird and wonderful journey of parenting on the prairie with you.
Thank you for reading. And thank you for the work you’re doing to raise good humans.