WT 017: What Should I Know About the Elementary School Years?

It's almost back-to-school time for your elementary schoolers! The elementary years can be tricky—all of a sudden your babies seem to turn into little adults! So how do you handle busy schedules, sleepovers with friends, allowance, and the new responsibility of homework? Karen covers all of that and more on today's episode of Wire Talk.

Question 1: “As soon as elementary school started, my son’s schedule ballooned overnight. We have boy scouts and swim lessons and baseball and so many birthday parties – I want him to make friends and enjoy his social life, while making sure I don’t over-schedule his life. Any tips?”

Karen’s Answer: Girlfriend, I hear you loud and clear! You are 100% right. It’s insane. You almost need a personal assistant to keep track of everything. My tip is to keep your own pace and try not to get caught up in what everyone else is doing. Just because your son is invited to 15 birthday parties, doesn’t mean he has to go to everyone. You can have him pick his top three.

I experienced this with all four children, so it got overwhelming very quickly. I limited my children’s activities to one at a time per child. So in this case, I would make my child pick which one he wanted to do: boy scouts, swim, baseball, etc.

Look at the calendar before you sign your child up and determine what is realistic with your schedule.

Question 2: “Now that my daughter is in elementary school, she’s starting to get invitations for sleepovers. What are your thoughts on this? I see value in no-sleepover rules, but I don’t know if that’s realistic. I went to sleepovers all the time as a kid, but now that I’m a parent I worry about putting my children in unprotected situations where they are vulnerable.”

Karen’s Answer: I think your concern is valid and let’s be honest, times have changed since we were children. I am not against sleepovers, but I was selective on who my kids were allowed to have sleepovers with. I really had to know the family well and to be honest. . .the few times I blended that rule, I regretted it. I also wouldn’t be afraid to have a conversation with the mom and say, “We don’t watch movies with bad language, or we don’t let our child…..”

It's important to stay engaged in your child’s life and get to know who their friends and their friends' parents are. If it helps you feel better invite the friend to your house first.

Question 3: “I would like my elementary-aged kids to contribute to the household more. What are your thoughts on allowance?”

Karen’s Answer: What Is the quick answer to this question? I think allowance is great. But, they should be contributing to the household chores just because they live in the house and benefit from the house. In my humble opinion allowance is just icing on the cake.

People ask me all the time if we did allowance. The answer is yes and no. I was never consistent. I’d forget, I wouldn’t have the right amount of money to give out then I’d “owe” them, which is always bad, children never forget! It was a hot mess to be honest!

I would give your child the “must do’s” around the house, like: make the bed, bring down dirty clothes, take their plate to the kitchen counter for cleanup and then add on extra chores for money (take out trash, vacuum, etc). You can surely add to the must do list, you may want to add take out trash as a must do. It’s your house, so your rules.

I am all for teaching we team work! If you as the mom are doing all the work around the house, then your children will grow up entitled. I believe firmly that we must teach our children how to be helpers around the house. It’s never too young! My granddaughter Evie is 2-years-old and while she was visiting she helped me snap beans for dinner, wash dishes, put away dishes in the dishwasher and she loved it! Start them young!

Question 4: “Now that my son is in elementary school, we are new to the world of homework and it’s a total battlefield. He just wants to play like his little brothers do. How do we start teaching him about this important responsibility?”

Karen’s Answer: Let him fail. His teacher will get onto him and teach him he can play after his homework is finished.

I would give my children about an hour after they came home from school to relax and have some down time, then I would tell them to do their homework and they could play again. Some of my kids like Taylor wanted to get his over with, and then play until bedtime, they are all different. Sometimes it is hard to get them re-engaged. Work with them until you find what works best for them. But, sometimes you need to let them fail.

Create a good environment for homework, no tv, no music and then let them do it.

If you have a question about motherhood I want to hear it, so make sure you visit birdsonawiremoms.com/askkaren and tune in each week to see if we cover your question.

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Thank you moms, have a great day!