As parents we all want our kids to have a successful school year. Before the year starts there is usually a bit of nervousness on all sides. Teachers wonder what the incoming class will be like. Kids hope to get along well with both their teachers and their classmates. Parents and teachers have an investment in the upcoming school year - what I like to call a partnership. If you are looking to connect with your child’s teacher, be sure it do it early! One of the questions I always like to ask my kids' teachers is, “How can I best support you during the upcoming school year?” Ask this question and mean it!
Check in on your child’s progress regularly. Read the emails, stay up-to-date on important dates, ask your child questions, and be sure that your child knows you will always advocate for them, but they must be respectful and ready to learn every day!
When we work with our kids' teachers, everyone is better for it! I’ve reached out to teachers from both elementary and secondary school to hear what makes for a positive school year from their perspective.
Below you will find a list of their compiled responses that I hope will help you move through this school year with focus, intention and compassion
- Read to and with your kids every day.
- Check homework and keep abreast of upcoming tests and deadlines.
- Communicate, communicate, communicate! Are there changes going on in the home? Is your child dealing with any health or behavior challenges? The more their teachers know, the more proactive you can both be! Anything that could possibly be affecting your kids' academics and/or behavior should be shared with their teachers.
- Encourage your child to have a positive mindset. Teach both small and big kids how to deal with and manage disappointment.
- Be as present as you can or send someone to fill in if you can’t. This goes for volunteering or special shows your child may have during the school year. If you can get ahead on the school calendar you may be able to plan for things that you may otherwise be unable to attend.
- Factor in screen time at home (kids are getting lots of screen time at school these days!)
- Have a consistent bedtime routine. Rested children are a dream for parents and teachers! If you missed our kick off post I discussed the importance of having a fairly early bedtime. Unless your kids are up late to work on a project they should be hitting the sack consistently at the same time every night. Of course, you know your kids best, but here are some guidelines for proper bedtimes based on ages and stages.
- Get to know your child’s teachers. They will be spending more time with their teachers than they do with you during the day. This will foster support on both sides. Be an encourager and show your child’s teachers you appreciate them!
- Teach your children the value and importance of education. It seems like this would go without saying, but when there is a love for education in the home it will translate to the classroom as well.
- No cell phone or Ipod use during the day. This tidbit came from teachers that work with older students. As a former high school teacher myself, I can honestly say this is a huge distraction that teachers definitely need parental support on. Phones are for emergencies only!!
- Teach and model respect, empathy and compassion. This goes a long way.
- If you can send in any extra supplies it’s much appreciated!
- Include your children in taking responsibility for their education. This can actually start in primary education! Often times people are surprised at how much my elementary aged kids can do on their own. But with 4 kids, I only have so many hours in the day. My kids are already learning to be responsible for getting their forms together for school, packing their backpacks and supplies. This will translate into a greater capacity to handle more responsibility as they get older. There will not be an assumption or expectation that mom or dad handles all things school-related, because they are gradually receiving more opportunities to manage these things themselves.
- Don’t avoid your child’s teacher. If there is a response needed, be sure to make sure it happen in a timely manner. Their time is valuable!
- Partnership was addressed earlier, but I can’t emphasize enough how much more successful your children will be if you truly see working with your child’s teachers as a partnership!