Ahhh, the smell of new school clothes is in the air. School shopping is almost finished. Teachers are heading back into their schools to set up their classrooms, feeling both excited and a little bit nervous about meeting their new class. Kids are savoring their last days of vacation. And parents are planning out schedules and routines to make sure the start of school goes smoothly. As both a teacher and a mom, can I share a thought with you?
When it comes to your child, it is a team effort!
You love your child. You want what is best for your child. So does your child’s teacher. Together you can make this the best year for your child. Together, as a team, you and the teacher can ensure that your child will have a successful school year. Here are some ways that you can help the team succeed:
- Be friendly, but not overly friendly. It’s only polite to greet the teacher as you are dropping your child off in the morning. But you do not need to have a conversation as the class stands there, waiting to go into the building and start the day. The same at the end of the day. Teachers need to make sure that the students are being picked up by the right person. To have a teacher distracted by having a conversation at dismissal time means that another child might wander off. If you need to talk to your child’s teacher, then schedule an appointment or write a note and ask the teacher to call you.
- Be involved in your child’s school. Join the PTA, volunteer to help out at the school dance, the book fair, or school concert. An extra set of hands is always appreciated. Go to Meet N’ Greet Night and Conference Nights. If you can’t make it due to scheduling constraints, communicate this to your child’s teacher and set up another meeting time. That being said, do not be late for your meetings or skip them altogether. A teacher wants to see that a parent is involved in that child’s school career and nothing is more frustrating than having set aside time for that parent and then not have them show or even call.
- Show your appreciation. A kind word, a card during the holidays and at the end of the year with a simple “Thank you” helps people feel appreciated. Teachers spend the day working with 20-30 different personalities and learning styles, all while having to wait until lunchtime to use the bathroom. Talk about patience! Throw in a $5.00 gift card to the local coffee shop and you’ve made that teacher feel like a million bucks. My favorite gift was a painting that one of my students made outside of school. It’s hanging in my home and I think of her every time I pass it.
- Keep communication lines open and respectful. We love hearing that our kid had a great day in school. No one wants to hear that their child had a difficult day, but it’s important to remember that the teacher is trying to keep you involved in your child’s school career. You need to hear about both good days and bad days. If you child did have an especially difficult day, talk to him/her at home about what happened during the day. Discuss together how things might be handled differently next time, should the same situation arise again. On a different note, if something big happened that may affect your child’s behavior or state of mind in school, like a death in the family, write a note to the teacher. Or call and ask to speak to the counselor in the school. I have been teaching for over twenty years. There have been many times when something has happened and no one in school is given a heads up. Then the child either breaks down crying, or acts out, or is unable to focus in school. This can go on for days. It’s okay to tell your teacher. The teacher can keep an extra close eye on your child and help if your child becomes upset or needs an extra break during the day. Most schools also have psychologists, guidance counselors, and/or social workers, all who can make themselves available to help your child talk about whatever is affecting them. There is nothing wrong with asking for help for your child.
- Make sure your child does the homework assigned, but don’t do the work for them. Sit with your child as she/he does her/his homework. This way you can see what they are working on in school. If your child is older, ask to see the homework when he/she has completed it. Let him/her know that you are interested in what they are learning in school and will help them, if needed. Don’t be surprised if the Common Core is confusing. It teaches kids to solve problems in ways that are different from how we learned when we were kids. First ask your child to teach you what they know. Sometimes, by explaining it to someone else, they realize that they have forgotten a step. If you need help to help your child, ask. But also make sure, that your child has completed the assignment to the best of his/her ability. And p.s. we can tell when you have done the work for them. I gotta tell you, it drives me crazy when a project is handed in looking waaayyy above the skill level of that grade. We can tell, people, we can tell. And besides, your child is not learning anything if he/she is not doing the work for his/herself.
Like any team, respect, communication, and a positive outlook means success. And success for your child is of the utmost importance. Have a fabulous and exciting school year!!!