It’s back to school time. The nerves have set in, the supplies have been bought, and you hesitantly look forward to a new year and a fresh start. These aren’t just the feelings of students, but teachers as well. Teachers love summer, don’t get me wrong, but “back to school” ranks right up there with it’s promise of eager children who are usually (surprisingly) ready for the structure to start again.
As a parent, you are probably feeling that mix of emotions too. You’re ready for a more predictable schedule and a break from hearing, “I’m bored,” but not quite ready for the craziness that comes with the school year. It’s important for all students, teachers and parents to remember that we are all on the same team and our goal is to make the year a success. As a teacher, I’d like to share with you a few tips that may make the beginning of the year a little easier on your child’s teacher. He/she has been preparing for your child and his/her classmates since the last day of school last year – or even sooner. Even still, by keeping these tips in mind, you will undoubtedly make these first few weeks even smoother.
1. Communicate appropriately, but not extensively. Teachers want to know all about your child. Please keep in mind they are trying to learn all about dozens of students and they absolutely do their best. If your school has an open house or meet the teacher night, try to attend. This is a great time to talk face to face and to ease the nerves of your child. If there have been any recent big life changes (moving, divorce, etc.) and you feel comfortable, let the teacher know. He/she will act appropriately but knowing this information can be very helpful in the classroom. And while extensive communication at the beginning of the year can be overwhelming for the teacher, ALWAYS share your concerns.
2. Email may be better than a voicemail. If you need to contact a teacher and need a quick response, email may be easier. The beginning of the year is the best time to find out how your child’s teachers best communicate and to also let them know what is easiest for you. It’s hard to check voicemail with a classroom full of students, but easy to read an email in between classes or lessons.
3. Start the school sleep routine early. This is VERY important and I know VERY difficult. Most children drastically change their sleep patterns during the summer (rightfully so!), but if you can allow for 5-7 days of getting back into the school sleep routine, it will benefit everyone. If your child is used to sleeping in until 10am and then is expected to suddenly wake up at 7am…well…I wouldn’t be very cheerful either. And I definitely wouldn’t be in my best mood to learn.
4. Eat breakfast. Getting a good night’s sleep and eating breakfast are two of the most crucial things that can affect your child’s day at school. I’ve heard from many parents that their child won’t eat breakfast, especially first thing in the morning. If possible, talk to the teacher about allowing your child to eat a snack right when school starts. Many schools also offer breakfast.
5. Ensure your child knows how to get home. This tip is mainly for the little ones, but also applies to high schoolers. It would be very helpful to make sure your son or daughter knows what bus to ride, if they’re being picked up or if they are going to a daycare. It’s never a bad idea to send a quick email to the teacher with this info too, just to make sure you’re all on the same page.
6. Provide extra supplies, if able. This would especially be nice with things such as antibacterial gel, disinfecting wipes and tissues. These things are often replaced throughout the year by the teacher, at her own expense, and would be a huge help. If you are financially able, consider buying a few extra supplies to donate to your teacher or school.
And above all, stay positive! Your child picks up on your attitude toward school (and the teacher); so even if school is your least favorite childhood memory, try to have a positive outlook for your child. The teacher wants your child to be safe, have fun and of course learn and she wants to do it with you by her side. A child can only benefit from this interaction and that’s what it’s all about!