3 ways to check-in with the kids and start the school year off right

This blog post is sponsored by VSP Vision Care, the leading provider in vision care and coverage, providing access to care for nearly 90 million members. Visit SeeMuchMore.com, or talk to your employer to enroll with VSP this open enrollment season.

It’s back to school time! Here at the Damon house, we’re so excited (and hiding our ugly cries) because David is starting kindergarten! I can’t even believe it.

One of the things I always want to be sure to do with David and Evy when she starts school is to check in regularly with them and gauge how they’re doing, what they’re learning not only from teachers but from other kids in their class, and whether or not they feel overwhelmed or confident at school.

Here are a few things Josh and I will be doing at the beginning of the school year to make sure things are going well that you can try in your own family!

Have a 5 minute conversation with your child’s teacher

Sure we have parent-teacher conferences twice a year, but if you want to check in to see how your child is transitioning earlier in the school year, you certainly can. Put a time on your calendar when you’d like to check in within the first couple weeks of the school year. Then be sure to email your teacher (they have their schedules too) and ask if they’d have time for a short conversation to check in on your child after school one day. 

When speaking with your child’s teacher, consider yourself on the same team when it comes to their education. Ask if there’s anything you can do at home to support your child in their learning and about any subjects that might need extra practice at home. Ask how your child is handling classroom relationships as well as simply handling the day and their schedule as a whole.

By having a conversation early in the year with your child’s teacher, you set everyone up for success for the new school year and have much more of an ability to ab a fly on the wall with the ability to monitor your child’s progress throughout the year.

Ask open ended questions to create conversation with your child

We often like to ask questions like, “Hey, did you have a good day?” while loading kids into the car after school. And sure, there’s nothing wrong with that, but yes-or-no questions can usually lead our kids to respond with the auto “yeah” rather than actually revisiting the day they had and sharing openly.

Instead, here are a few open-ended questions we can ask instead:

  1. Tell me about the best part of your day.
  2. What was the hardest thing you had to do today?
  3. Did any of your classmates do anything funny?
  4. Tell me about what you read in class.
  5. Who did you play with today? What did you play?
  6. Do you think math [or any subject] is too easy or too hard?
  7. What’s the biggest difference between this year and last year?
  8. What rules are different at school than our rules at home? Do you think they’re fair?
  9. Who did you sit with at lunch?
  10. Can you show me something you learned (or did) today?
Source: Scholastic

Aside from this, Josh and I also love to ask the kids about something they’re thankful for that day (usually we ask this around bed time). This is another way for us to check in while reminding the kids that there’s always something to be grateful for.

Make sure your child has everything they need to succeed

When we hear “school supplies” we usually think pencil sharpeners and 1-inch binders. Did you know that 8 in 10 people (84 percent) rate vision as the most important sense but only half of people get annual eye exams. Not only that, but according to a recent survey conducted by VSP Vision Care and YouGov, twice as many parents worry about their children’s dental problems (15 percent) than their vision issues (7 percent), even though most children lose their baby teeth by age 12 or 13.

My mom, a third-grade private school teacher, says that every year at least one child going through her class finds out for the first time that he or she needs glasses. By this time the child has been potentially struggling to see in class for 3 or 4 years!

Not only that, but  some eye diseases have no noticeable symptoms,which is why annual eye exams for the entire family are so important!

What I find really cool is that 1 in 4 people have access to vision insurance with VSP through their employer! What’s even better is that enrolling is extremely simple – usually as easy as checking a box for vision coverage while you’re enrolling in your benefits. And right now is the time to do it since we’re in the height of open enrollment season. 

Working from home with two kids and one starting preschool this year, I get how important it is to make things like enrolling in benefits or trips to the doctor as easy and painless as possible which is why I appreciate the ease of getting started with VSP so much! Not only does it make taking care of my family’s overall health much more manageable, but members save an annual average of $445. You can use the savings calculator to see what your personalized savings add up to at SeeMuchMore.com.  

If you’re thinking over your benefits this open enrollment season or looking for vision insurance for your family, try adding VSP to your plan to keep your family seeing the world as they should. 

Plan for family time

I get it. The beginning of the school year can be extremely busy, especially with after school activities starting again, too. 

 At the beginning of the year, try to plan for explicit family time where you and the kids can get away and have fun as a family. Maybe it’s a day trip to a zoo or sporting even a low-key picnic in the park. Whatever it is, make sure it’s low pressure and a slower pace to give you child the chance to have a break from the back to school busy season.

What do you do to check in with your kids after school?? I’d love to hear your traditions and tricks in the comments below!

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