Tips From Teachers to Parents

IMG_8095 copyMy daughter is starting 3k this year and though I’m excited for her, I am also having a lot of feelings on this new phase.  I’m sad she’s growing up so fast, worried, nervous, excited, anxious and the list goes on!  But I’m putting all of these emotions aside, as best as I can, and I am going to try to do everything I can to get her excited and try and make her feel as confident and prepared as I can.

I thought since I am a newbie parent sending our first kid off to school I’d ask my close friends who are teachers on advice and tips parents should know or try to be doing to make this upcoming school year go more smoothly.  I got so many awesome tips that are applicable not to just new parents, but for parents of all ages that I’m excited to share with you.

DAILY ROUTINE DURING THE SCHOOL SEASON

– Get kids used to going to bed and getting up earlier from their the summer sleeping schedule to ease them into the routine a week before school starts.

– Have kids lay out their clothes the night before to ensure that there’s plenty of time for breakfast and limited rushing around in the morning.

– As we all know having breakfast is the fuel for our day so make sure they eat breakfast! If you can even try to do an extra special breakfast the first few days of school that may help them be more excited to eat something.  If they smell some cinnamon rolls or bacon and eggs (bacon being super important here) then suddenly their nose does the work!

– Make sure they know how they are getting picked up (clear communication with teachers and office).  If possible establish what the regular routine would be for the year on the first day.

– Have a designated area and, if possible, a designated time for homework each night. Even if there’s not an homework to do, read a book during that time so your child is used to doing something educational during “homework time”.

– Make a point of asking your child what he or she learned each day.

PARENT TO TEACHER ETIQUETTE

– Your child’s teacher would love to talk to you about your child…just not at drop off and pick up or lunch or recess. If you need to talk to your child’s teacher, set up an appointment or shoot him or her an email. The beginning of the day and end of the day are sometimes the most hectic times for teachers.. Making sure everyone’s in the classroom, making sure everyone is safely with the adult they’re supposed to be going home with, etc. So it’s not that we don’t want to talk to you, it’s just that we can’t give you our full attention when we have 23+ kids we’re responsible for. Also, if we can meet at a planned time, my input about your child will be more intentional and meaningful.

– If the teacher welcomes you in the room, you can go in. If not, leave your kid at the door. They’ll be fine.

– Be an advocate for your child.  You know your child best!  Don’t be afraid to talk with the teacher if you have questions  or concerns.  But remember  your child is not the only student.   The teacher is there to help all the students. And remember it’s not what you say it’s  how you say it.   Teachers are people with feelings, too.  Sticks and stones will break your bones but words. ..actually they really do hurt. Model to your child how to be respectful.

– Communicate openly.  Work with the teacher not against the teacher.   You both want what’s best for your child even if you don’t always agree on what that is. You love your child in a way only a parent can.  But teachers love their students, too.’

– Most teachers have a deep passion for what they do and are willing to give everything they can to help children.  but also remember it is a job for them, they do have lives and can’t always respond  to your emails at 8:00 at night.

– You’re going to have teachers you love and never want the year to end and you’re  going to have teachers you are thankful it’s only a year.  But hopefully from both your child will learn and grow.  Help your child see the positive in both.

– Children have beautiful imaginations.  And young children can often only see things from their perspective.   If you believe everything your child says happened at school. Before getting upset: call or email the teacher- this is what Susie said happened today at school.   Did it or is there more to the story?

– If you have an issue with a teacher, talk with the teacher about it. Going directly to a principal or a higher up person will only make matters worse and chances are… More likely than not, the teacher is on your side and whatever issues need to be dealt with, can be dealt with easily. The teacher has your child’s best interest in mind.

– Send appreciations to your teachers and encourage your child to do the same.  A note, a card, an email, a verbal thank you,a small gift, some cookies or extra veggies from the garden.  Who doesn’t like to feel appreciated?  You can do it at random or after times you know a teacher has been working really hard: after parent-teacher conferences, after report cards come out, February or March (it always seems like long months for teachers and students). In an envelope for each year I taught, I have special emails from parents and cards from students.

THINGS WE SHOULD BE TEACHING OUR KIDS AT HOME

– Remind your child how much you value the fact that he/she is kind and that you want them to make sure everyone feels included. This is a psychological game, ha! Even if they aren’t, you saying it will make them want to be it. 

Encourage your child to make friends with many different types of kids.  Help them to not be afraid of those who are different but guide them in asking questions to find common interests.

– Try to help your child be independent. They should be able to feed themselves, carry their own things, etc.

– Along the same lines, teach them to be responsible for their own belongings. So many times parents ask me where their child’s jacket went, where their lunchbox is, etc. I always tell my students that they need to be responsible for their own things and that it’s their job to know where their things are, not mine.

– Talk to your kids about what a good friend is, how they should talk, act and make them feel. Kids are mean earlier these days than they were when we were growing up. It’s a misconception to kids that they have to be friends with everyone. Talk with them about how to be respectful and kind to everyone, but if someone isn’t treating them how a friend should, they need to know it’s okay to not have to play with someone who makes them feel bad.

– You are your child’s first and most important teacher.   Continue teaching at home: reading,  practicing,  exploring outside.  Children show the most progress when families take the time at home to continue reinforcing what their child is learning in school.  However, don’t go overboard.  Kids need to be kids!  Give them time to run, jump, play outside, sing, dance, shout.  So much of school today is structured, give kids plenty of unstructured play time.

– Today in the schools, there is a lot of pressure placed on kids even at a very young age.  Help them to learn how to handle stress and also speak up when you feel things are too much for your child.

– There will be tears both at school and at home. (parents will have them too!) That’s ok! Remember that your child’s problem may seem small to you, but to your child it is a big deal and it is hard work to learn and grow.  Listen to them and help them work through it.

ADDITIONAL FEEDBACK

– Label everything.

– Don’t send birthday invites to school unless you are going to invite the whole class!  It always results in hurt feelings.

– This is more for kindergarten… make sure they know how to tie their shoes or have velcro

This goes for all year round: check the weather, send them in appropriate clothing.

– If your child is crying, the sooner you leave, the sooner they will stop crying. Parents attitudes that day have the biggest impact on the kids.

– You’re more nervous than your kid.

I hope you all found these tips as helpful and informational as I did!  I truly will be looking at these tips regularly!  So many suggestions were things I would not have thought of.  Thanks to my awesome friends who took the time to send me this information, I really appreciate it!  And here’s to hoping this new school year starts off on the right foot!

Melissa is a mom of a 2 year old and expecting her second child any day now! She's a foodie, loves spending time with her family and friends, enjoys reading a good book, designing, crafting and taking as many family adventures as possible. Fitting that in of course is a juggling act between being a busy stay at home mom, but she wouldn't want it any other way. Before having kids she studied and worked in architecture. She and her husband have lived in Chicago, Norfolk, Va, San Francisco and just recently moved back to Madison. You can also read about her adventures on her personal blog www.defininglovely.com.

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