Wednesday, August 5, 2009

School Tips From a Teacher

* I missed the deadline for last week's back-to-school tips, so I'm re-posting it today.*

It's that time of year again. All the stores have declared open season and the school supplies are flooding the isles. It always seems to come too soon! My youngest stepson started school YESTERDAY because he's year-round. Ugh.

Last week, I wrote about teacher gifts that they really want and need. This week, I'll tell you about the best way to prepare your child for the big day, from a teacher's point of view. Most of these are common sense, but they bear repeating.

* Make sure your child gets enough sleep.

Duh. We all know how it feels when we are sleep- deprived, and a room full of cranky kids is not exactly my idea of a good time. Also, kids need to be alert to be an active participant in their learning. I never taught really young kids, but I remember the first-grade teachers always sent a letter to parents before school started reminding them that the first-grade day was longer than kindergarten. That can be a big adjustment for your child, so start getting into a routine ahead of time. Which brings me to the next tip:

* Work on routines. (No, not the talent show kind.)

It's good to get your child slowly back into the routine of waking up early, sitting and doing quiet work/art, etc. Talk with them about what the school day will be like, how long it will take to get to school, how they should act in class, how to use appropriate behavior on the playground. Granted, all teachers go over rules the first day(s), but talking with your child ahead of time will help them connect with what the teacher is discussing on the first day. Also discuss bus routines, time for homework, new bedtime hours, etc., so that it isn't all a big surprise on the first day. This is especially helpful for students who are nervous about school.

* Yes, we really do need you to fill out all those pieces of paper.

Yes, it's a pain. Yes, you've already filled them out for the past five years. Yes, it should all be computerized so that you only have to do it once. But school districts dictate that there are certain forms that must be updated every year, and it helps when they are turned in on time so that the teacher/office assistant doesn't have to chase down every parent who doesn't return them. There are actually things your child will be restricted from doing if we never get the paper, such as internet use (for reports, etc.) and certainly going on field trips if the permission slip isn't returned. Sometimes schools will even keep children from participating in school-wide events if not all paperwork is turned in. Sad, but true. Sometimes it's the only way they can force the parent to bring them.

* Don't overwhelm the teacher upon first meeting them.

We LOVE it when parents come to school with their children on the first day (or anytime, really). It's fun to see parents walking on campus with their children, sharing in the first-day experience. We love to meet you, really we do. We do not, however, like it when you decide to share every accomplishment/allergy/learning disability/phobia/social grace/friend and/or enemy your child has ever had or will have two minutes before the bell rings. We have up to 35 other nervous children and parents we need to greet and it rattles us a bit when you take 25 minutes to describe why we should really challenge your child in math this year. There is time for that later. I promise. A simple, "It's nice to meet you. Bobby is really happy he has you for a teacher this year. I look forward to hearing about all the great activities he'll do in second grade," is plenty.

Oh yeah, this also goes for Back-To-School Night.

* Make your child eats something before school.

Some kids are just not breakfast eaters. I understand. But recess/lunch is a long time off, and food is a must to kick-start the brain. (Remember, they're not drinking coffee yet. I hope.) I don't care if it's the healthiest breakfast in the world or the half-eaten pop tart found on the floor of the car, just give them something. Maybe buy a box of granola bars to keep in the car for those days when everyone's running late. I used to keep some in my classroom for days like that. For me or the kids.

* Breathe. Relax. Tell yourself everything will be okay.

Even if you're extremely nervous about your child's first day, it's important that they see you viewing it as a new adventure. Believe me, once the kids get in the classroom and start the day, the routine takes over and they relax. Don't get them stressed out for nothing.

* Talk with your child and review the day.

Push them to tell you more about their day than "Nothing," when you ask what they did. Ask about friends, recess, assignments. Regularly go through their binder/folders with them to check if there is any homework/papers to sign that have somehow gotten buried with everything else. It's also a good way to see what's being studied in class.

Just doing the little things help so much to make your child's experience a successful one. For more tips to get your child set for school, head over to We Are THAT Family's Works For Me Wednesday.

image credit


Crayl said...

Good post. Are you currently still teaching? What grade level? I'd add, stop feeding your kids High Fructose corn syrup and sugar before school and at lunch...:)

Heather said...

I like your suggestion, although with all those Chocolate Frosted Sugar Bombs (cereal from the >Calvin and Hobbes cartoon strip) on the shelves nowadays we might be out of luck...

I don't teach anymore, but I taught third and fifth grade in the past. Last night I went to my sixth-grade stepson's Back-To-School Night and I was amazed at the amount of children there who were significantly overweight. In some areas of LA the childhood obesity rate is 90%! Maybe that will make parents reconsider the high fructose corn syrup and sugar...

Paula @ Organizing Tips For Moms said...

Great tips. I think I'll link to this post from blog! Thanks

Amy Platon said...

great tips. i also read your gifts for teachers and I was happy to read that those are gifts I like to give....I always wondered if it was too boring....good to know it's not!

Amanda said...

those are great tips!! thanks for sharing. I will remember to keep my mouth shut & just smile during meet the teacher night :-D

Heather - - said...

Another great article about back-to-school stuff.