Are you prepared for the back to school season? Dr. Leman gives insightful tips for starting school right in today’s episode.

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Doug: So your kids are either back in school or about to start in school. What do you do with that five, six year old that you’re putting back in kindergarten for the first time? Or what about that first grader, second grader or third grader that just is struggling to get it going at school? Well, that’s the question we get to ask Dr. Leman today. Hi, I’m Doug [inaudible 00:00:26].

Andrea: And I’m Andrea.

Doug: And we are so glad that you are with us today and if this happens to be your first time, we just want to let you know that this is for your education and entertainment purposes only. If the subject matter raises any concerns for you or your child, please go seek a local professional for help. Well, Dr. Leman we’re talking about today like how do I help my elementary or kindergarten kid get ready for school? But I haven’t asked you this in a while. How are the Leman Academies doing?

Dr. Leman: Very well. We have waiting lists at five of our six schools. Now when I say a waiting list, I mean, they’re a couple hundred deep trying to get in. Again, we offer quality education with rigor, high expectations. We don’t accept excuses. We put authority in the classroom teacher’s hands. So some of you just hearing that or thinking, “Hey Leman, would you mind building a school in our neighborhood because we could use that?” Well, yeah, you could use it. So could all of America and all of Canada as well.

Dr. Leman: It’s a wonderful model. It’s based on basically three books that I’ve authored, The Birth Order Book, Have a New Kid by Friday, Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours. So parents love to send their kids there. Kids love our schools and teachers feel like the movie Field of Dreams when the question is asked, “Is this heaven?” “No, it’s Iowa.” We tell our teachers, “No, this is Leman Academy. Welcome.” And they love being in our school.

Doug: That’s awesome that you’re up to six schools already. That’s really, really cool. That’s really, really cool. Well, today’s podcast is how do I help my little guy get going in kindergarten and elementary school?

Dr. Leman: Well, I’m so glad we’re doing this and I realize that you’ve already pointed out, Doug, that for many of us, school has already started. For example, I have a Leman Academy out West in Colorado and Arizona. We actually start school, I believe it’s August one so we’ve already three weeks in by the time this airs. But let’s start with the little ones and we’ll even include the preschoolers here because many of you as parents have enrolled your kids in preschool or you’re thinking of doing it. Keep in mind just a couple of general things. Your little firstborn doesn’t like change in all probability. Most firstborns do not like change. They don’t like new things. So use your head, parents. Do some dry runs to the preschool, do some dry runs to the kindergarten. Most school systems have a special time where you can bring your son or daughter to the classroom.

Dr. Leman: They get to meet to teach. It’s a little meet and greet kind of a thing. And again, I’m speaking to you, firstborn parents as well. You know how you are, you know yourself. So use your head here. Get your kids to put their little foot in the water and realize that an alligator’s not going to chop their little toesies off, that they can proceed without fear and make that transition as natural as possible. Please don’t overhype it. Please don’t tell that kid how much they’re going to love it. Because if you have a powerful child, I got news for you. He’s going to make sure you understand after the first day he hates that place. So what I’m saying is take things in stride. Okay? Get them acclimated. Now looking at the first grader, the second grader who’s already gone through kinder, they’ve done some socialization, they’ve learned to share some, and they’ve learned all their colors and by the end of kindergarten, many kids are reading today.

Dr. Leman: Now you got to ask yourself, “Okay, what’s the routine like for our school year? What are bedtimes like? How much of our time at the end of the school day is devoted to believe it or not, homework?” And again, this is a sidebar, a school that gives way too much homework, in my opinion, is a sign of a poor school system. A little homework, yes. A lot of homework, no. So again, get to know the teacher. Put a routine in place. If you have a kid who’s about as disheveled as Pig-Pen from the Peanuts comic strip, help that kid get organized. Put some different colored folders in a child’s room where schoolwork can be put into different areas. Help them to get organized. Some of you are naturally organized and some of you are not and your kids are going to be that way. So you have to follow your own nose on this, your own lead here, parents and realize that one child might need a little bit more help than another when it comes to structuring things.

Dr. Leman: Now we get into the older grades where kids have, you know, a half hour or sometimes even an hour of homework. Where does that kid do the homework? What time of day does that kid do the homework? Is your kid the kind of kid that wants to come home from school and delve into it and get it done? I had kids say, “Dad, I did it in the car on the way home.” So again, every kid is different. But is there a place where a kid can study, can concentrate, get their homework done, whatever. Again, remember it’s your son or daughter’s in the third grade or the fourth grade or the sixth grade, not you. So don’t get caught doing homework for them. Kids will work here.

Dr. Leman: But again, I think the big things to think about at this time of year is, “Okay, I’ve got a sixth grader, what was my year like last year?” Where are the times you found yourself wanting to pound your head on the wall of your home or apartment? What were those trigger points? And my question to you is, what are you going to do differently this year to avoid that? Because quite frankly, if you don’t have a game plan in line, it’s not going to happen. You’re going to have a repeat of what happened last year.

Dr. Leman: In our next podcast, I’m going to try to tackle what do you do with problem kids, kids that aren’t hitting on all eight cylinders in school. I will also tackle the older kids, the high school kids where they have more freedoms and more responsibilities. And so speaking of responsibilities, even though kids are going to school year, they still have responsibilities in the home.

Dr. Leman: I think that’s really important that kids have well-defined jobs so to speak, where they understand that their responsibility now that school has started deepens because not only do they have their household chores that they need to be responsible for, but they also have their school activities and things. And speaking of activities, do you have a central calendar in your home? I think the perfect place for it is some pretty strong magnets on a refrigerator door where if there’s activities or projects due or family things or church events or whatever that we can put them on the family community calendar. All of you know life’s busy. And I’ve said it in one of my books help, I’m a cabbie and my SUV isn’t even yellow and we tend to pillar, you know, take kids from place to place and life can get very hectic. So again, you’re listening to the baby of the family talking about getting organized.

Dr. Leman: And I’d have to admit to you in full disclosure that one of the things I’ve done well in life is I’ve surrounded myself with people who are organized because my nature is not to be organized. So again, nobody knows your kids better than you do. And one other thing, and then I’m going to ask Doug and Andrea to pitch in. For those of you who are starting school, are you putting your kid in kinder too early? Is your son or daughter a late in the year birth baby?

Dr. Leman: We have parents who try to get their kids into Leman Academy as four year olds in kindergarten and we routinely turn them down. Yes, I know your kid’s bright. Yes, I know some four year olds read and all that, but the emotional maturity, the social maturity is a key here and I’m of the opinion, and this is flat out opinion that if you start kids a little later on, they’re going to profit, especially as they grow through those tougher grades starting when the curriculum really takes a hard left turn at fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth grade. Okay. Doug and

Andrea fire away. What do you think?

Doug: Well, I’m just sitting here studying with one of the first you made was don’t make it, you know, take them to the school, let them see where their classrooms are going to be and all those things and don’t make it a big deal. But I know like Andrea and like she would be wound to a 10 at emotions in this moment. How does a mom or a dad balance that, “I got to show my kid I love him and I want to nurture them,” but not make it a big deal when you’re at the school, when you yourself are a raging volcano inside?

Dr. Leman: Well, number one, again, I go back to this statement, nobody knows your kid better than you. And some of those kids on that first day of kinder or whatever, they’re going to be clingy. They’re not going to want to let go. And they might throw a little dog and pony show for you, including some real emotion. My advice is at that point, hand your child to the teacher. Thank him or her. Wish them a good day. Turn around and leave.

Dr. Leman: Now, what I give you pure permission to do is when you walk out of school, burst into tears, cry your little eyes out, go to your car and sob for 20 minutes. But listen to me, he’ll make it. She’ll make it without you. Remember our job is to create a responsible citizen someday, and this is step one of letting go. It’s a big deal for parents. I know it is. Take the pictures and all those kinds of things you want to do, but don’t get caught up in the drama.

Andrea: Do you think there’s something about like when you said, take the pictures, I can envision my sister’s girls when they were going off to their first day of kindergarten and she would post a picture of Maddie’s first day in kindergarten, you know, with their new backpack and it’s almost like a celebration rather than a, “We have to do this,” making a celebration out of it rather than a gritting my teeth?

Dr. Leman: Yeah. I just think the more you can keep that in proper perspective, the better. Sure, you want the picture of the first day of school. I have a picture of my home in New York. My buddy [Moon] and I on the first day of school and I’m sad to report that Moon had had a little pot belly even back in those days. But there’s the picture of the two of us and it’s one that I treasure to this day. I was five years old and so was he. We were in kinder, but I get that. But again, parents, remember your kids are going to read you and they’re going to read your emotions and they can read you like a book. They know how to push your buttons. Don’t ever forget that. So the more stable, and matter of fact you are with this life-changing event, the better off your son or daughter is going to handle that transition into school.

Andrea: Is it ever a sign if the child is really clingy that maybe they’re not ready to go to kindergarten and maybe this kind of leans more towards those kids have a later birthday in the year that maybe you should hold off for a year?

Dr. Leman: Yeah, and some just emotionally, just mature-wise, aren’t ready. Most kindergartens have a pretest that they’ll give a kinder to see if they’re ready, a readiness test and hopefully you’ve taken that or we’ll take that, consult with your teacher. Let me give you a personal thing out of my life. We have five children, the youngest of which is a toy designer. In fact, she just designed two things that are in Disneyland today as we speak, that she’s created. She’s the youngest in the family, but she’s not a youngest. Those of you who read The Birth Order book. She is the only child that has six parents and everything that young woman does, she does well. She’s now 27 years of age this August. In kindergarten, teacher pulls us aside and says, “You know what? I think Lauren ought to repeat kinder.” I’m thinking, “Repeat kinder? My kid failed kinder? She’s a dummy? She’s eating paste? Where have we gone wrong? Why didn’t I see this?”

Dr. Leman: And we just talked and I listened to the teacher and I talked to my wife and I said, “Honey, I see where she’s coming from on this. Her birthday is August 22nd so she’s in the ballpark for being unscheduled for kinder but a little late in the year.” And we followed the teacher’s advice. Lauren repeated kinder with no scars and there’s a kid who, I mean she’s a winner with a capital W, with an exclamation point on the back end of it. She’s extremely bright, creative, as an intern, she designed the pond on Frozen. I mean the kid’s talented artistically. So I don’t know, I just say parents sometimes you have to sit with the educators and you have to listen to what they have to say and sometimes you take other people’s perspective. Are you ultimately responsible? Yeah, you are. So choose your school carefully.

Doug: Yeah, I was just thinking through our kids and take them to kindergarten, how James, oldest, he could march right in and he would just stiff upper lip but maybe our second child would have tried to manipulate us emotionally. And it just made me think of The Birth Order book and how helpful that is to know those traits that are going to be there. And like you said, you have to know your child.

Dr. Leman: You have to get behind the eyes of your sons and your daughters and see how they see life. And as a reminder, you mentioned The Birth Order book, the family changes with the birth of each child. I always say it’s amazing how these three or four little cubs that came out of the same den are so uniquely different. But I also go back and say, “You know what, actually it’s not the same den because the den changes with the birth of each child.”

Dr. Leman: So we’re asking you in some ways parents to be a good shrink to get behind your kid’s eyes but don’t fall prey to their drama. The drama queens are labeled queens for a reason because young women are very, very good in drama. They’re a little better than us men. Not that boys can’t be powerful and all that, I don’t mean that, but just don’t get sucked in. Don’t snowplow the roads of life of your kids. Don’t find yourself vicariously living your life through your son or your daughter. Let them be who they are.

Andrea: So I have another observation here. Two of the things that you mentioned were thinking about what is the family routine going to be for this school year and also reflecting on last year’s trigger points in it. It made me think about how every school year is different and kids are in different kinds of classes, they’ve got different kinds of extracurricular going on. And I think for me it’s been important that I recognize that not to try and make every year look like the previous year. And so I appreciated that you said, what are last year’s trigger points, what kinds of things would a mom be looking for in that?

Dr. Leman: Well and whatever those struggles have been last year, again, we’ll talk about this more in our next podcast, but you can expect some of the same things and you can examine yourself as well. How do we handle that and how that worked out for us? And most of us wouldn’t say if we’re honest, not very well. Well then, what are we going to do different? See, because the school year, as soon as the school year comes, it affects everybody. It affects everybody in the family, dad, mom, grandma, grandpa sometimes, babysitters. It’s something that if husband and wife are on the same plane on this, on the same page, this also will help a great deal.

Andrea: So I feel like you’re giving permission to completely change everything about how your family routine goes or the kinds of activities that your kids are doing from year to year. Like it’s freeing to me to hear that. I don’t know. I don’t really have a question. I think I’m just feeling like it’s very freeing to hear that. Like go ahead and change things up.

Dr. Leman: Yeah. Let me give you an example. Your son or daughter decides in a first grade that they want to take trumpet lessons. I remember I got as far as rock of ages on the trumpet. Now I’m going back on my memory bank, but after four weeks in school, he decides he doesn’t want to play the trumpet anymore. If he’s my kid, he’s going to play the trumpet until the end of the semester. I don’t care how good he plays the trumpet or how bad he plays the trumpet. He’s going to play the trumpet for the semester. At semester, if there is a change that needs to be done, it can be done then.

Andrea: Why don’t you let him stop at four weeks?

Dr. Leman: Why? So I can teach him that he can make a decision and then bail out on it. I want to teach them in the home early that when you make a decision to do something, you’re going to do it. You’re going to do it as best you can. And if you don’t like it after a set period of time, but see I think in semesters maybe that’s because I’m a former Dean of students, but I think that’s enough time for a kid to really get interested in something. Sometimes kids decide prematurely they don’t like something and you’re giving them an escape out. And so going in to that, “Okay, if you want to take trumpet lessons, you have to understand one thing. You are going to take trumpet lessons until Christmas break or until the semester’s over. Without understanding, we will rent the instrument and you will do those lessons that you think are going to be so cool.”

Dr. Leman: The question to every family is, do you have a port of call? Do you know where you’re going? What is the [inaudible] house rules? And that includes how we treat each other or responsibilities or how much activities. Now your kids I know have been involved in 4H and I’ve been a critic of activities for kids for years, but I’m always, well always whenever I get an opportunity to say something about organizations like 4H, I take it upon myself to say I think that’s one of the greatest organizations a kid can get involved in. Because it has so much heavy emphasis on what individual responsibility.

Dr. Leman: So anyway, parents, don’t overload the schedule. You need time to be lovers and to be friends and to be married partners and don’t let school and don’t let your kids rule your home. That’s not putting you on authority. So you need a way of having set limits, margins, expectations, all surrounded with love and encouragement that vitamin N, no, that vitamin E, encouragement. And that’s the kind of environment where kids can really bloom.

Doug: Yeah. Now that I have kids that are leaving the nest and going and living in foreign countries, I can tell you that, boy, you said it so well there. Don’t overload the schedule so that you can nurture and love them because it goes way too fast and you miss those moments at home way more than I ever thought.

Dr. Leman: Was James a 4H-er?

Doug: Yeah. Yeah, he was super 4H-er, which is interesting because you’ve said, I’ve learned that you want your kids to serve, he’s paying to serve in Costa Rica right now. Right? And it’s changed his life. And 4H planted that, helped plant that seed in there.

Dr. Leman: Yeah. And how much would you attribute that to the training he got in your home and the training he got at 4H?

Doug: A lot. It was the values that they, you know, because 4H is about serving others. And it’s a big part of what they want you to do. So yeah, absolutely.

Andrea: But it was also the culture in our home too.

Doug: And our cultural at home.

Andrea: Which probably drove us to do 4H.

Dr. Leman: Yeah. Okay, well I hope we’ve helped people today. You’ve got to get off on the right foot and that’s important. But parents, you need to have a game plan that has to mesh with your child’s temperament and personality.

Doug: Yup. And I know we’ve gone long on this one, but Dr. Leman, I know you said this, but I just again, now that I see it, how important is it that we do what every other family is doing and how important it is to have the courage to be different from everybody else? What would you say to those parents?

Dr. Leman: Again, you want your kids to be different. Hey parents, do you really want your kid to be like every other kid? If you do, I feel sorry for you. I feel sorry for your kid because I can tell you if your goal is to have your kid be like every other kid, your son or daughter is going to be very unhappy throughout life because they’re never going to experience who they are. And God created all of these kids differently for a reason. And many times we expect these kids just to fall in line and be like the stereotypical firstborn who usually does things pretty right.

Doug: Well I got so excited in listening to this that I totally forgot to talk about the eBook promotion this week and the no nonsense parenting advice from Dr. Leman. Like this is embarrassing here. I was so …

Dr. Leman: Well let me say this is your fault, not mine. I’m usually in trouble for something. This time you’re in trouble.

Doug: Yeah. Can we blame Andrea somehow? No, we know she’s perfect. So we can’t do that. So Dr. Leman and all those people out there, August 27th to September 2nd of 2019 you can get the book Perfect Ambition for $1.99, so $1.99 gets you the Perfect Ambition. And what is this book about, Dr. Leman?

Dr. Leman: Well, it’s a fiction. It’s a story of a family, a very wealthy family, and you’re going to see life from behind the firstborn’s eyes. It’s got some mystery and intrigue to it. You see if you can figure out who’s who, who done it sort of thing. My editor said to me, she said, “I’ve read a lot of fiction.” I mean this woman’s been in the business for 40 some years. She said, “I thought I had the POV, the point of view person figured it out, but you fooled me.” So again, if you like fiction, it’s a family that would be analogous to the Rockefellers, the Kennedys, the Bushes, the Clintons, people of money. It gives you a look into how the other side lives. Part of the setting of the book is in a little lake in upstate New York where I happened to spend my summers and so I think people would like it.

Dr. Leman: I don’t know how to say this, but you have to be pretty smart, pretty with it to read this series. It’s not a Dick and Jane fiction series for sure. It’s got some depth to it. It’ll challenge your ability to think things through. So $1.99, those of you who read fiction, you know what you do, you read a book or sometimes you only get through the first couple of chapters and if you don’t get hooked, you’re burn it. So if that’s the case, you’ve misspent two bucks. Live with it. I think you’ll enjoy the book and the series.

Doug: So as we wrap up this topic, there’s a couple of things that come to mind for me as I’m … For you, especially if you’re a new parent, getting ready to send your kids out to school, I think read The Birth Order book if you haven’t already. It really will help you give a perspective of what each kid’s going to need and give you an insight into your kids. Like Dr. Leman said, know your kids. It’s a great, great, great help. It also helps you know who you are and know, like you said, Andrea, the triggers and the things that get us as parents. It’s amazing how much it helps you. And we’re going to talk middle school and high school in a future podcast. But also I think getting ready for applying to middle school, that’s a great book if you’re there, but we’re also going to recommend that again in a while.

Doug: I highly, highly, highly recommend you get these books for you to be prepared to help your kids. Well, we love being with you. We love helping you build your parenting toolbox so you can love these kids and as your kids get ready for school and as you adjust the life at school, we’re excited for you in that adventure with you and your kids. We look forward to the next time we get to be with you.

Andrea: And I think this week I’m going to make a list of my trigger points from last year. Have a good week.

Doug: Take care. Bye, bye.

Andrea: Bye, bye.