Revolutionary Children’s Book Tackles the Real Challenges Kids Face Each September *Q&A with Author*

The First Month of School Might Determine the Rest of Your Child’s Life…
The first weeks of school can set the tone for a child’s entire relationship with education.   Intrinsic motivation is what encourages autonomous learning and this is often set during the first days of class. It is important to start the school year off with a positive mind set. (source)  Transitioning to a new school year is difficult for parents, children, and teachers alike.  Stewie BOOM! Starts School is a fun and kid-friendly book that teaches kids to be their own (real-world) superhero! It addresses the tough issues parents and children face during these sensitive transition periods.  The biggest complaint of children’s books is that they are out of touch with the real world. In an attempt to protect kids from “Harsh Reality,” modern children’s books often give a false sense of security. They don’t teach the crucial problem-solving skills needed for adulthood. Real growth comes from facing challenges and overcoming adversity.
Stewie BOOM! Starts School will help children aged 3-6 prepare to enter pre-k or kindergarten. Stewie BOOM! is a loud, comical, and sometimes cranky child, who has a big problem: he had a very bad first day of school! His entire family (including the pets) work together to solve Stewie’s problem. The next day, Stewie has a very good day at school. This illustrated book includes an interview with two well-regarded child psychologists who give simple tips and practical advice to parents on smoothing their children’s transition into school.
Tips with Author Christine Bronstein:
1.  What are 5 Tips for parents & kids to start the school year off right? 

1) Establish Rituals.  Whether your kids are starting school for the first time or returning after a vacation or long weekend, bedtime and morning rituals make for much easier transitions into school. You might even want to start the routines in advance, so when school rolls around, they are better rested and prepared for the start of school.

2) Communicate Regularly.  Regular communication with your child’s school and teacher is key to having a great year. The more information they have about your child’s home life, learning style, temperament, and social life the better equipped they will be to motivate your child and to handle any bumps that arise. I always set up a meeting to talk with my children’s teachers early in the school year and I also email them regularly if there is anything going on that might affect their school performance, even if it is just that they didn’t get good nights sleep and might be cranky.

3) Inform Your child.  Giving children as much information as possible about what will happen at school will help smooth out their transition. Children benefit from familiarity, so making sure your child knows what will happen at school and what is expected of them is key to having a good school year.

 4) Be a Rock of Confidence.  It’s just as important for parents to be emotionally ready for their kids to start school as the kids themselves. The self-aware parent separates any personal memories of their own of how it felt to go to school from their kids’ feelings. So, if you are sad or worried about your child starting school or even abut something that is happening at school it is important to NOT share those feelings with your child. It will only make them anxious.

5)  Ask your children what they are looking forward to and what they are afraid of about starting school. These types of sharing conversations are helpful before school starts. And make sure you have these conversations without distractions. I love to have these conversations in the car when I have their full attention.

2.  How can you turn around a bad school year?

A socially bad year:

Open and honest communication with other parents and with kids is very important to a successful year socially. If something has happened to your child, communicating with your child’s teacher and/or a social counselor at school as soon as any problems arise is key to keeping these problems from escalating. Again, show confidence in your child and the school. The calmer your reaction, the safer your child will feel.If it is your child that is causing problems, don’t stress, you are not alone (I have been on both sides of these kinds of problems many many times). Don’t get defensive, get proactive and help your child turn around their negative behaviors. Work with the school to set clear boundaries and repercussions, and when possible positive reinforcement when they do turn around their behavior.If possible be proactive. If your school gives out a class contact list, set up play-dates with classmates (even before school starts if possible) to grow those relationships and get to know the other parents in your child’s class.

An academically bad year:

Make sure you have set clear expectations with your child about what is expected academically and make sure your child has plenty of quiet time to complete homework. I always ask my kids’ teachers how much time everyday I should set aside for them, and schedule it into their day.Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to ask for help. All of my kids have needed extra help from time to time, and the most important thing is to catch any academic problems as early as possible. Early intervention is key to turning around a tough academic year. No matter the age, gender or grade, all kids and students need a little extra help sometimes!

3.  How can parents & teachers can work together?

Communication is key! A new study shows that there is a definite communication gap between parents and teachers, which impacts a child’s performance:

“When one of the five biggest barriers to learning happens in a child’s life, fewer than 1 in 4 parents bother telling teachers – with disastrous consequences.”

  • Communicate regularly with your child’s teacher in whatever way they prefer. I like to swap emails with my children’s teachers on the first day of school.
  • Take advantage of school calendars, newsletters, school volunteer opportunities, open houses and of course, parent teacher meetings.
  • Make sure you communicate with teachers about positive things too, not just when something is wrong.
  • Share with the teacher what you know about your child’s interests, skills and history that will help to build a complete picture of the person your child is at this moment.
  • Share any information that is likely to affect your child emotionally, mentally or physically.
  • Giving Thanks. Parents should remember that a simple thank-you could go a long way in strengthening relationships. And teachers should remember that students aren’t the only ones who respond well to praise.   Quick notes to parents with kudos for their kids can build a deepening sense of trust.

4.  Please give my readers some ready-to-use parenting tips (by two child psychologists)!

* Set expectations and create familiarity. For example you can take your child to play at the playground at their school before school starts or over vacations to establish familiarity with the school grounds.

* Be an emotional support for your child. The self-aware parent separates his or her childhood from her children’s.

* Set routines, especially if your child protests strongly to going to school.

* Expect some kind of protest-this isn’t unusual and shouldn’t worry you. You probably don’t want to go to work either.

About Author Christine Bronstein:  Christine Bronstein is an entrepreneur, a mom, an author, a philanthropist, and a wife. She is the founder of Nothing But The Truth Publishing, and the author of the Stewie Boom! series of children’s books. Christine is a graduate of  Emerge California and Columbia/UC-Berkeley executive MBA program. She is the former CEO of one of the few women-run, venture-backed health and fitness companies in the nation for eight years and was president of a child-welfare foundation for three years. Christine is married to  Bay Area journalist Phil Bronstein, and they have three children, multiple dogs, and several other small creatures.
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