This morning, as I was out for my early morning walk, there were signs of school starting everywhere. I saw school buses, more traffic than usual, people in a hurry, and of course, back to school “first day” photos staged in front yards. I saw a mom capturing the smile of her elementary-aged daughter and a high schooler boasting her new letter jacket – on a very hot Texas morning, I should add.

It was eye-opening. The two short blocks between these photos underscored how quickly time goes by and how fast our children go from elementary to high school. Just as the country song by Kenny Chesney, “Don’t Blink,” reminds us, our children sail from kindergarten to a senior in high school in a blink of an eye.

One of my sons is a college graduate now and has started his career. My second son is a college sophomore. As a parent, I’m passed those back to school days, but on mornings like today, these proud parents remind me how fast the years go. I fondly remember the hustle and bustle the night before school starts. And then the rushing around the next morning – preparing breakfast, packing lunches, and making sure their clothes and hair were neat and presentable. With so much stress and activity, we were all exhausted by day one.

A tip to parents: don’t miss the special moments. Slow down. Watch and listen. When your child comes home and talks about their day, put down your phone, sit, and REALLY listen. Speaking from experience, someday you will look back and ask yourselves, “Why did I rush so much?”

Get to know your children’s teachers. Establish communication with them. Get involved, even if you can’t physically go to the school on a regular basis. Not every volunteer job requires being at school. Technology provides a wonderful way to be involved in your child’s education. Time and time again there’s evidence that parent engagement equals student success. It’s easy to say, “I don’t have time.” I say, “We can’t afford to not make time.”

Our children will often act like they don’t want us at school, and that’s particularly true during the middle and high school years. But I believe they really do like us there, even if they don’t acknowledge it on the spot!

The 180 days of each school year really do pass quickly. Be present for your children because someday you will be just like me, recalling those days gone by and watching others living your best years.

Kyle Ward

Kyle Ward

Since 2006, Kyle Ward has served as Executive Director of Texas PTA. An advocate for children and parents all his life, Kyle formerly was the Director of Field Operations for Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). He and his wife and their two sons hail from North Texas.