It’s coming! That school bell is ready to ring

By Sandy McDaniel

The start of the new school year looms on the horizon, and there are some things you as a parent can do to assist your child(ren) in being successful. As a former fourth grade teacher, I can tell you that it was obvious which children had prepared for school and which had not.

No. 1: Have your child read for a minimum of 20 minutes each day. This can be a “togetherness” time at bedtime, a child can read to the parent who is cooking dinner, or read to themselves. If they do the latter, ask questions about the book to ensure the job is being accomplished.

No. 2: Restrict the use of all media to two hours a day. A child who is 2 or younger should have no media use; adequate brain growth is even more at stake at young ages.

No. 3: Have consistent bedtimes and getting up in the morning times, starting at least three weeks before school begins.

No. 4: Set up an area for studying and provide paper, pencils, folders and whatever the child needs for school.

No. 5: If the child has a computer, monitor what the child watches on it. Homework can be done near a parent.

No. 6: Spend time with your ‘chicks’ now. They are literally growing away from you, so this time is an incredible blessing. Play board games, bake cookies together, go fishing, plant a garden, have a family reading where you all read a book together. Spend time with your children!

As a former teacher, and having watched times changing in terms of what parents expect of teachers, there is something parents need to know. Due to over-use, mass-addiction to media objects and their content, children do not have adequate communication and social skills. Therefore, adding more media objects to the classroom needs to be regulated. Children need to work together problem solving, communicating, and experiencing differences. Children need to have boundaries and consequences in the classroom and parents need to “buzz off” rather than restrict the teacher from teaching what the parents should be teaching: No means no.

Unkindness is not acceptable. Here are some rules children should follow:

• Raise your hand before speaking.

• Don’t laugh at what someone else says.

• Take your turn and don’t pout if you are last in line.

• Listen!

• Do your own work.

• Mind me when I ask you to do something or stop doing something.

There are an alarming number of wonderful teachers who love children and their jobs, but they are quitting because children haven’t changed over the years, parents have. Talking to a teacher about a concern is highly appropriate, and please let them do their jobs, which are only partially academic and largely about social skills.

As a researcher, I am learning scary facts about what is happening to our youth because of over-use of media. Here are some highlights for your consideration:

• Children who watch/participate in a lot of violence on TV or video games become numb to violence. A non-empathetic society is what we are creating, and there is nothing more lonely for mankind.

• Children who eat while using media don’t eat well and totally miss out in the family socialization, which is a fundamentally important part of their development.

• The TV teaches children sex education, that it is okay to smoke, drink and swear. Children are hypnotized by advertising and do not learn to discern fact from fiction. Models stress thinness and manufactured beauty. Music videos use foul language and teach anger as a method of coping; video games keep a child in a state of tension and agitation. The internet can bring a child all sorts of information that the child does not need to know.

• The media can be a blessing, but it MUST be monitored by adults. Meanwhile, think about this challenge: no TV, computer, or video games in their rooms.

As my aging fingers type these words, I have been the parent of two (plus one ‘borrowed’) children and a grandmother to four wonderful grandchildren. Some of the times were harder than others; and the farther away they move from my reality, the more I realize how precious each year was. There are no do-overs in terms of years. (Trust me, I’ve checked out this concept!) As insane as the toddler years can be, those little dragons grow way too quickly, and as they do, they begin to pull away from you emotionally. Enjoy them now! Spend time with them now! Be with them now! And every single day, even when they brush it off, tell them you love them. There just aren’t any do-overs in this game.

For more than 55 years, Sandy McDaniel has been an international speaker and recognized authority on families and children. Author of five books, columnist, founder of, she is a resident of Meridian and loves spending time with her three Idaho grandchicks. Semi-retired, she speaks to schools, churches, and MOPS groups and provides parent coaching sessions in person and on the phone. She is available for parenting talks/trainings in the Treasure Valley and may be reached at Also, go to YouTube: Sandy Spurgeon McDaniel to see videos on specific parenting issues.

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