What to Keep in Mind the First Week of School So You Don’t Drive the Teacher Crazy

What to Keep in Mind the First Week of School So You Don’t Drive the Teacher Crazy

Eva Fleming

Pretty soon summer vacation will be over, and children from all over the world will put on their newly purchased clothes and sneakers and head back to school.

Here are some things you can do so you and your child don’t drive the teacher crazy.

Follow the drop-off and pick up rules.

For some reason, parents don’t like to follow the safety procedures the school has established for drop-off. They either drop off their kids outside on the curve, or they get out of the car and insist on walking their children to class every day. I shouldn’t have to tell you that all those adults without credentials shouldn’t be walking around a school. It’s just not safe! Remember to put away your cell phone when you are dropping off or picking up your child. I’ve witnessed no less than four bumper hits and near misses of little humans, this year and I wasn’t even out there every day! Rules about security, parking, and drop-off are there for a reason. Follow them and stop complaining about them.

Read the school instructions

Read the school instructions for the first day of school and all subsequent communication from the school. Don’t ignore information from school and then complain that you don’t know what’s going on.  I had a parent last year who was angry because she was never informed about the promotion ceremony for kindergarten. I told her that she was welcome to talk to the teacher but not to forget to check her child’s backpack and her phone as our school sends information via actual newsletters, email, phone messages, texts, Facebook and Twitter.  Schools are especially careful to send instructions for the first week of school, so read them.

Get the correct school supplies

Send your child to school with the supplies that are on the list and don’t put your children’s name on the supplies unless otherwise asked to. Sending children with trapper keepers and things teachers didn’t request is puzzling and a huge waste of money. Buy the brand of crayons the teacher asked for and resist buying the cheapest ones at the dollar store. These things need to last all year, and some brands are so cheap that they won’t make it to the end of the week. They are great for restaurants to pass out with the children’s menu but terrible for 180 days of use. If teachers asked you to send your child with a water bottle or an extra set of clothes to leave in the classroom in case of an emergency, do it.

Be kind, not sarcastic

Make every effort not to be sarcastic with the school staff or with your student’s teacher when you feel overwhelmed. The first day of school is stressful for the administration, and it can be easy to answer with sarcasm or anger when you find out that your student didn’t get the teacher you requested, the teacher has a rule you don’t agree with, or your child and his best friend got separated and no longer have the same teacher. Contrary to popular belief, teachers don’t have the entire summer off. They are usually working on lesson plans for the next school year or taking the required courses they need to keep up their certification – at their own expense. So, don’t greet them on the first of school with the usual “at least you had the summer off” snarky comment. Thank them for their hard work and never use sarcasm with a teacher.

Attend parent orientations

Make every effort to go to the parent orientation meeting at the beginning of the year. Your student’s education is a partnership. The school can’t accomplish much if parents are not full participants of their student’s education. During orientation you get to know their teachers, see the classroom your student will spend six hours of their day, ask questions, meet other parents, learn class procedures and expectations and get an idea of the class schedule for your student, etc. Teachers spend a great deal of time preparing for that initial meeting. Don’t blow them off. Being on the same page will only enhance your student’s education experience.

Teachers have 20 to 30 students to deal with, don’t add to their already stressful first week of school. Follow those five simple suggestions and become a teacher’s favorite; one of those parents that teachers adore.

For more tips on relationships, follow Family Bridges on social media @familybridges


Eva Fleming is an expert educator and curriculum developer. She has over 25 years of teaching experience and has taught all age groups including, preschool, elementary, middle and high school children and adults. When she’s not teaching, she’s cooking something delicious or driving her children around.

Make Time for Memories that will Never Fade

Make Time for Memories that will Never Fade

Contributed by
James Hommowun



This week, my college roommate was back in town visiting his family and made time to stop by our house for an evening.  After catching up with my wife and I and our very excited daughters for about twenty minutes, my oldest ran from the room to grab a tablet and raced back up to him to ask, “Wanna play chess?”  I was treated to half an hour of watching my old friend (who is every bit as bright as I am) nearly lose his first game of chess with my daughter – in his own words, he only got out of it because she showed him a mistake he was making and he was able to turn it around.

I should maybe mention that my old roommate moonlights as a game designer and knows more about the history and development of chess and its variants than I could ever hope to match.

Needless to say, I was incredibly proud of my daughter. And I hadn’t set her up to challenge him, nor would I have expected her to come that close to winning her first game with another skilled adult.  (I maybe should have since she finally beat me last week, but obviously I must have just not been paying close enough attention.)  But the whole reason I had this great experience is because I took the time last year to teach my daughter to play and spent the time playing with her. She took that, ran with it – she’s getting very good at defeating weak computer opponents on that tablet, and is excited to attend the library chess club this summer as one of the youngest players – and has exceeded by many times the little effort I put in in the beginning – “effort” to have funwith my child.

We get so busy with our day to day lives we can lose track of the time we spend (or don’t) with the people closest to us, the people we see every day – and this passive, unintentional neglect (we’re not tryingto not spend time with our kids, we’re just trying to keep up with all the other demands on our time) has the biggest impact on the smallest people.  Children thriveon parental interaction, they come to love what we love and they want so desperately to be like us we have but to give them the slightest encouragement and they burst into bloom right before our eyes.

If I hadn’t spent that time playing with my daughter, could I have answered a few more emails?  “Liked” a handful more Facebook posts?  Caught another episode of Stranger Things on Netflix?  Finished another chapter in my book?  Of course I could have.  In a year, will I remember any of those things?  Very likely not.  Will I remember the sparkle in my daughter’s eyes and the genuine joy my roommate took in playing with her – something that could only happen because I first played with her?  Absolutely. Maybe even for the rest of my life.

We know that finding time and balancing all the demands on us as parents is hard – it’s another Full Time job on top of any other work you do, and the hours are 24/7.  That’s why Family Bridges hosts a series of short podcasts to help young (and not so young) parents navigate the challenges we all share – we know “The Struggle is Real,” but no one has to face it alone.  We invite you to check out the podcasts, or join us on the Family Bridges App available in the Apple Store and Google Play to get some quick tips on how you can trim the timesinks that you’ll never remember and make time for the memories that will never fade.  Take the time to play with your kids – chess, baseball, chutes and ladders, dress up, the game doesn’t matter.  You may sometimes feel silly, harried, find it hard to focus – but the rewards are incredible, and they come when you least expect them, and they arethe moments worth living for.

For more resources on personal and professional development, you can follow Family Bridges on social media @familybridges.

My Husband as a Father

My Husband as a Father

Contributed by
Eva Fleming

I don’t know about you but sometimes I observe and reflect about what kind of father my husband is to my children and a sly grin of satisfaction passes through my lips. He is not the fun, energetic dad that tosses his children up in the air or spends time with them in the basketball court. Yet, as I see my children growing and maturing, becoming independent and embracing life, I have to admit this reserved man has done something right. Why else are my children so adaptable, hardworking, responsible, respectful and focused? Is it perhaps, because they have the steady hand of a dad that takes them to karate practice every week, trusts them with big jobs, sets high expectations, and provides the resources for them to succeed? I believe it is.

My husband has been providing for our family physically and financially for almost three decades. But best of all he provides a stable home where love and trust can flourish. I have made the following observations about the type of fathering that goes on under my roof:

  1. My husband’s fatherhood is an expression of masculinity. True masculinity models healthy compassionate relationship behavior. This is good for my boys because they are learning to find their role and place in society by the power of modeling. And it is great for my daughter because the primary way she has learned how men should behave in a healthy relationship has been by watching her father. Most divorce and domestic violence happens to men and women who grew up without a father modeling compassionate relationship behavior (Steve Stosney, Ph.D)
  2. My husband’s role is integral to the wellbeing of our family. I know what the fatherhood research says about fatherhood and the list is long. Check out David Blankenhorn book Fatherless America. He says that, “fatherlessness is the most harmful demographic trend of this generation.” But our family has benefitted from emotionally stable children who exceed in school, don’t exhibit behavioral disorders, and don’t engage in aggressive behaviors all because, I’m sure, there is solid fatherhood happening in our home.
  3. Fatherhood has been good for my husband. The biochemistry and neural activity that kicked into his brain after he became a dad has literally kept him alive and focused. Loving a child and sacrificing personal comfort for their success and well-being has indeed turned my husband from a typical selfish bachelor to a complete selfless human. Perhaps he pushes it to the limit since he still drives a 15-year-old car to make financial sacrifices to benefit his children.

If you ask my kids about their dad, this is the first thing they will tell you: “When I ask dad about something, he goes more in depth than I thought possible. He looks at thing from all the angles, he is really thorough. Which lets me know that he really cares and wants me to make the best decision I can make. He truly has my success in mind.”

In my house my husband is honored for his character which, come to think of it, is the reason my sisters and I honored my own father. He was passionate, principled, forgiving, and compassionate. My husband is honest, responsible, trustworthy, and detailed. What about you or the special father in your house? What character trait are you passing down to your children? Whether you are an active, adventurous, affectionate dad or a reserved, steady, determined dad, society needs you, and so does your family.

While Hollywood’s portrayal of fathers in roles like those of Homer Simpson with his crude, short-tempered, neglectful, clumsy, lazy, heavy drinking, ignorant and idiotic personality may be comical, it’s definitely incomplete and thankfully does not represent the many awesome dads that I know are out there. These days’ fatherhood is on the rise and boy, am I thankful for that!

For more blogs, tips and ideas about life and relationships, follow us @familybridges.

Surprised by Love

Surprised by Love

Contributed by
Bill Ferrell

“I am dead.”

These were the first words that filled my head when I woke up.

Of course, I didn’t think that I was literally dead. I meant that I was in a lot of trouble.

I was a sophomore in high school and the night before I had gone to a movie with my best friend, Don. I drove my parent’s car to the movie. However, Don drove the car home because I couldn’t. I was drunk.

I would like to state for the public record that it was Don’s fault. I would like to say that Don made me get drunk. I would like to say that he threatened to hurt me if I did not match him beer for beer. I would like to say that, but of course that’s not true. I drank freely. That is not to say that the beer was free. In fact, I was the one who paid for it.

When I arrived home, my parents knew exactly what I had been doing. It was the first (and last) time I had consumed that amount of alcohol. Therefore, I was not good at hiding it. The fact that I had gotten sick on the way home, couldn’t stand up, and that someone else was driving their car probably made them suspicious.

In the morning I woke up and immediately felt sick to my stomach. Not from the alcohol, but from knowing that I was in trouble. I laid curled up under the covers, hoping that I had just dreamt the whole thing. But the voices coming from the kitchen brought me into reality. I couldn’t hear what they were saying, but I could tell my father was upset. Very upset. I had never heard my father that way. Of course, he had never seen me drunk either. He generally was an even-tempered man. He seldom raised his voice. But that morning his volume was turned all the way up.

And for good reason. I had been irresponsible. I had violated their trust. I had lied to them. His anger was justified. And I felt horrible.

I decided not to delay the inevitable any longer. I slowly opened my bedroom door. Suddenly there was silence. I walked into the kitchen and sat down. I had avoided eye contact until that moment. I looked up, bracing myself to meet a burst of anger along with a speech about being a colossal disappointment. Instead, I was surprised.

With tears in his eyes, my father stood me up, hugged me, and said, “thank God you are safe.”

I realized in that moment his upset was not because I had disobeyed him or broken the law or had done something incredibly stupid. It was because he loved me.

I had been expecting punishment and yet I received grace. I was deserving wrath and yet I received kindness.  

I learned something that day. I learned that no matter what I did, my father would always love me. I learned that his love was not dependent on my obedience to rules, or compliance to his will, or even to common sense.

He loved me. Period.

I have learned over the years that I am deeply loved, as my father loved – and as our Father in Heaven loves.

When we experience that kind of love – we experience life.

P.S. I was grounded from driving the car for 4 weeks. True love also protects. Even if it’s from yourself.

For more blogs, tips and ideas about life and relationships, follow us @familybridges.

It’s not OK

It’s not OK

Contributed by
Sarah Pichardo

If you ever wonder what’s wrong with this world and this generation, just read a Cosmopolitan article, watch an MTV show, or take a look at Snapchat’s featured stories. I came across an article today titled, “I Love Dating My Married Boyfriend”. I kid you not. That’s the actual title…and that’s exactly what the article was about. Please, world, tell me that it’s not just me that sees something devastatingly wrong with that.

Here’s the thing. I know that there is a small percentage of people who think this is perfectly fine and that the rest of you do agree with me and do see something wrong with that.  And that we are just over here like, “For real though? What’s wrong with you?” That’s the bright side of this blog/rant. The not so bright side is that this is what media outlets are shoving down everyone’s throat – ALL THE TIME.

We’re becoming a desensitized people. Because the more you push the boundaries and limits, the more common and acceptable something becomes…the more you have to keep pushing boundaries until there’s nothing left to push.

Nothing is off limits. Everything is acceptable. There is no such thing as right or wrong.

When is enough, enough? I’m a bit saddened and concerned at where our culture will be in 20 years. A place with no moral objectivity.

There is no one who can influence your children more than you. Take advantage of it while you can. Talk to your kids about your beliefs and about what you expect from them. Teach them about right and wrong. Talk to them about relationships, sex, drugs, politics, religion, life. Don’t assume they will learn it on their own. If you don’t talk to them, they will learn things from their friends, from school and from what they read online and see on TV. And don’t just talk to them about it, but show it in your daily actions.

Not everything is OK. And it’s OK to say so.

For more blogs, tips and ideas about life and relationships, follow us @familybridges.

Want to Raise Great Kids?

Want to Raise Great Kids?

Contributed by
Bill Ferrell

Do you want to raise an emotionally deficient child? A child who questions their value and worth? Someone who seeks approval and love from others in unhealthy ways? A child who believes that they must find someone else to “complete them” because on their own they are incomplete?

If you do – you are sick and I would like you to hand your child over to me immediately.


However, I am assuming, that is not the case. Like most parents, you love your child(ren). However, all of us come into parenting unprepared. It is truly an “on-the-job” learning experience. Primarily our own Family Of Origin (FOO) experience informs our parenting paradigm. That can be both healthy and unhealthy. It all depends – and is usually a bit of both.


“That was how I was raised and I turned out alright” is not always the best parenting principle. Maybe your parents did a great job in raising you. Or maybe they were working out of some deficiencies in their own lives (like all of us) and they got some things right and they got some things wrong. That’s called “being human.” There is no value in “parent bashing,” – recounting all the things they did wrong.

However, it is important to know that two imperfect human beings (your parents) couldn’t help but pass on some of their imperfections to you. You can’t escape that. In addition, you probably picked up some imperfections all on your own. I know I did.

The important thing to know is that what we learned from our FOO probably is not enough. We need help. We need to be intentional. We need additional input and resources. We all do. One excellent resource is a book and podcast called The Struggle is Real. They are designed to raise extraordinary kids in the 21st century.


This brief blogpost is not enough to cover all the topics necessary in raising healthy children. However, there is one thing you can start doing today that can make a HUGE difference.

Tell your children, “I love you.”

Yes, I have the gift of stating the obvious. However, no matter how obvious this appears, children can’t hear this too much. Adults can’t hear this too much. Of the hundreds of people I have counseled over the years, a reoccurring issue among people in crisis relationships is that they rarely heard “I love you” from their parents.

Now, I am not saying these are magic words that will result in raising perfect children and healing all wounds. Of course not. (That’s why you need resources like The Struggle is Real). Words are not enough. There must be love in action to back them up. However, they are a start. And they can have a HUGE impact.


So today – tell your child, “I love you.” If you don’t have children – tell your parents, your spouse, a friend. We all need to hear it. Feeling loved is foundational to living an extraordinary life.

Let’s give that gift to our children and loved ones!

For more tips and ideas about life and relationships, follow us @familybridges.

Don’t Let Summer Happen To You!

Don’t Let Summer Happen To You!

Contributed by
Eva Fleming

If you are like me, you must be panicking as the 70 days of summer vacation approach. The summer is supposed to be nine weeks of blissful family togetherness but for us working parents summer is mostly a financial and logistical nightmare. The school system assumes that all households have a parent waiting for their kids at home. It doesn’t take into account the reality that many children will have countless hours of unsupervised television or video game binges.

Most kids lose math skills over the summer, and according to the New York Times they don’t gain them back the first week of school as many of us assume. This puts them three years behind their higher income peers by the end of fifth grade. So our first order of business this summer is to prepare for our kid’s continuing education. I ordered my son the pre-algebra curriculum from Inspiron. This will account for 30 minutes of his day and 30 more minutes will be spent in required reading. He can read more if he wants to but he has to do a minimum of 30 minutes. I encourage you to go to the library, or if your budget allows it head straight to amazon.com. Your children will complain about how unfair it is to do school work in the summer, but trust me, they have 24 hours in the day, it is not unreasonable to expect them to spend one of those hours sharpening up their math and reading skills.

Summer is a great time to teach our children how to do chores consistently. The biggest complaint the work force has about the new generation is their entitlement attitude. Let’s not forget we raised those entitled children. We can reverse entitlement in our own homes when we teach our children to be self-sufficient. I’m not suggesting here that we send them to labor camps. I’m simply stressing the importance of chores. Our children should be able to pick up their rooms, make their beds, start a load of laundry and switch clothes to the drier, take out garbage, wipe off counters and sinks, and maybe even run the hand vacuum. When they get up in the morning, leave them a list of things you want them to do. Don’t forget to teach them how to do them first! They will never be able to keep the house as clean as you keep it but at least they will know what to do when their laundry basket is overflowing or when they run out of towels.

Those little bodies need to move and exercise. Camps in the YMCA are awesome but we can’t all afford the $200 a week. So be sure to have a hula hoop, jump rope, and perhaps a Bosu ball lying around the house. I even let my kids ride their rollerblades inside the house when it’s too humid outside or I am not available to go out with them (mind you I live in a one story house and have no stairs). If you have staircases have your children chart all the times they use those stairs and give them brownie points. These points can be added up for special treats during the weekend.

No summer should be complete without community service. I know some of us are too busy to volunteer at the local elderly home but we can teach our summer vacationers to think of the needs of others by doing simple things like unloading the groceries for an elderly neighbor, volunteering to walk a neighbor’s dog, offer to pull weeds for the pregnant lady that lives next door, or teach a younger kid how to play ball.

If you work from home like I do or leave your kids with grandma while you go to work and don’t want your kids lingering in front of the video games for hours on end, be sure to leave building toys like Legos, puzzles, and painting supplies on the table. If it’s hidden they won’t go looking for it. The card games and table fun must be visible!!!

Check the VBS calendar from your local churches and enroll them in one. It’s usually a fun week of crafts, games, friends, snacks and Bible lessons that you don’t have to pay for! The community calendar can also be helpful.

Julie Kashen, the policy director for the group Make it Work explains that “summer is the moment that really epitomizes the child care crisis.” It is a crisis alright but you don’t need to panic. If you can’t find a nice camp that won’t cost an arm and a leg you should make a plan and charge forth courageously!

Here are some tips:

  1. Get together with other working parents in your same position and build a support system where you all can take turns checking up on the children, taking them to the park, exchanging puzzles and toys or sharing ideas.
  2. Be sure that all adults in your children’s lives during this time are trusted adults.
  3. Give the children a small notebook with some stickers. They can place a sticker in their book every time they complete a task. Or,
  4. Keep a white board visible and give each child a brownie points for everything they complete. At the then end of the week you can do something special depending on the amount of points they accumulated. The more points the better the reward.  Here are some examples:
    • For books read or drawings or daily reading (15 points)
    • For chores completed (15 points)
    • For doing extra things without being asked (5 points)
    • For completing math assignments (15 points)
    • For going up and down stairs (one point for every time they do it)
    • For learning how to hula hoop (50 points)
  5. Go to the library and check out some age appropriate books. Ask the children to draw pictures of their daily reading and give them brownie points for each drawing.
  6. Give the children brownie points every time they go up and down the stairs (it’s good exercise)
  7. Keep a board with a list of chores you want them to complete for the day and have them put a sticker next to the chores they complete.
  8. For really big jobs like pulling weeds or cleaning the windows, pay children a modest amount of money. I have twelve windows so I pay my kids $1.00 per window. They get to play with water and soap while getting an important job done.
  9. Keep a summer feeling chart. Ask the kids at the end of the day how they felt that day and log it on the calendar. You can order your feeling stickers and cards from our Family Bridges website.
  10. Teach the children how to play monopoly or other table games. They are fun, cerebral, and a good use of summer hours.