A School Year Mission Statement

Eliza Clark
August 13, 2018

The beginning of the school year is fast approaching, and the kids are not the only ones with butterflies in their stomachs. Parents are nervous too. There, I admitted it.

Is there a way to make it better? Is there a way to make heading back to "real life" something we look forward to with a sense of purpose? Before the rush of early mornings and regular routines begins again, we want to take some time to think about our goals for the year ahead.

One way to do this might be to create a "School Year Mission Statement." Now, some of you may already have a "Family Mission Statement," and I'm impressed if you do. But that's not what we're talking about. Your School Year Mission Statement can something a bit more impromptu. You could have family meeting about it, or you could just put some ideas down on paper and then run them by the family the next time you all catch up at dinner. The mission statement could reflect your own personal set of resolutions as a parent, or you could also ask the kids about their hopes for the coming year. 

However you decide to approach the task, it's an excellent exercise. You will need to review what worked and didn't work during the last school year, and envision how to make some of the right adjustments or even wholesale changes during the coming months.

These are useful discussions to have with your spouse or co-parent, and it can also be fruitful to include the children's perspective. Good questions to ask the kids might be: What are you excited about working on this year at school?  What friends are you looking forward to spending time with? What activities are you most happy about doing? It is, after all, their school year. (And if their answers are "nothing," "I don't know" and "recess," then ask again later.)

As one example, here are a few of the ideas our family has come up with: 

Home routines 

  • Early bedtime/early wake-up
  • Clarify the kids' chores and stick to them
  • Make homework a calm, supported experience
  • Make space for free time, play, and art
  • No television during the week
  • Host play dates; get to know the kids' friends
  • Choose a few chapter books to read aloud together this year


  • Use weekend screen time effectively: skill-building games or classic cartoons and movies, etc.
  • Make time for one-on-one with each child
  • Plan one all-family outing per weekend (museum, park, bike ride)
  • Maintain Sunday night family dinners

 School and activities

  • Volunteer for a project at each school
  • Being on time to pick-up and drop-off is important
  • Friendships matter a lot
  • Get to know the teachers
  • Give back

Attitude toward learning

  • Mess-ups are how you learn
  • Give it a try
  • Keep practicing
  • Take space and time to learn (for parents: try not to rush the kids or hover)
  • You can learn almost anything you set your mind to
  • Parents are learning too

I don't know that this list adds up to a "mission statement" per se—distilling everything into a few coherent sentences is challenging! But this is what we're working with so far (and it is helping to quell those butterflies)....  How about you?

From the Parents

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