Friday, August 11, 2017

10 Things Parents of Elementary Students Should Do at the Beginning of School

Last week, I wrote a Facebook post that's gone a bit viral, I think.  As of today, it's been shared close to 80,000 times, and been reprinted on other blogs.  I've had friends from all over the country message me saying that their friends who don't know me are sharing it - pretty cool!  It also shows you how much teachers need a voice; how there are things that they want parents to know, but don't feel at liberty to say.

Here's the post in its entirety:

Teachers went back to school today in our county, and for the first time in a long time, I'm not there. So on their behalf, I'd like to share with you a little list that's been bouncing around in my head.
10 Things Parents of Elementary Students Should Do at the Beginning of School:
1. Buy ALL the items on the school supply list, and buy name brand. They work better, I promise. Yes, we know it's expensive; you wouldn't believe us if we told you how much of our personal money we spend this time of year getting our rooms set up.
2. Refrain from complaining about how much said supplies cost. Give them to your child's teacher with a smile, and a thank you for what they do. Buy some items from their wish list if you can. We're all in this together, you know? And yes, your teacher might use some supplies "community style" simply because it makes it just a bit easier on her. Be ok with that. Even if it's not your preference, just let it go and trust that everything will turn out ok, even if you have to buy some more pencils at the end of the year. Believe me, the teacher is doing her share of buying them, too. These are all our children.
3. Come to Meet the Teacher/Parent Night/whatever. Don't try to have a conference; you don't have to stay long. Just introduce yourself, fill out whatever paperwork they need, drop off (all the) supplies, and head home. Teachers are working 10-12 hour days this time of year; slide them a small Starbucks gift card before you go, if you want to win their heart.
4. Believe that they are FOR you and your child. No matter what happened last year, this is a new teacher and a new year, and you want them to let your child start fresh, right? Do the same for them. If you've had a bad experience, that was before. This is THIS teacher. Give them a chance! So choose to believe they want your child to succeed and thrive. The VAST majority of them do! If there's something that concerns you these first few weeks, just talk to them about it. Send an email and ask for a conference. Look at them across the table so you can see in their eyes and hear in their voice how very much they value your child, and how very hard they are working to do a job that can be difficult, even on the best days.
5. Bring your child to school on time the first 2 weeks of school! We're learning routines and procedures and it's SO helpful for building community if everyone is there.
6. Send all those pesky forms in as quickly as possible. They don't like dealing with them any more than you do, so the sooner they can get them off their desk and turned in, the better! 
7. Only speak positively of your child's teacher and classmates and school in front of your child. You can't imagine what a difference that makes in their motivation in the classroom. Even if you're frustrated with the county's standardized testing or common core or the car line or all the homework - bite your tongue and leave that for adult conversations. You're investing in your child's educational success if you do.
8. Encourage that teacher! Right from the start, take the time to tell them something you love about their classroom, or how they run things, or something your child brought home. You can just scrawl a note in the take home folder, or send an email. A little bit of encouragement surely goes a LONG way this time of year!
9. Make drop off short and sweet the first day of school. Lingering goodbyes make for a hard transition, so keeping it upbeat and exciting is the way to go.
10. Remember that they are real people, too. They have children who were sad when they left this morning, sitters who called in sick, to-do lists miles long, a car in the shop, bills piling up because it's been a while since they got a paycheck, babies who woke in the night, parents who need care, husbands who miss them while they're gone so much during preplanning week. They're just humans, and they sit with the weight of educating dozens of little minds, and they don't take it lightly for a second. Be patient with them. Give them the benefit of the doubt, every single time.
Friends, teachers LOVE what they do. They love the smell of new crayons and writing your child's name neatly on their desk and planning a wonderful year of growth. If we parents can lock arms with them and make sure they know that we've got their back and will support them all year long, the children are the ones who will benefit!
Happy 2017-2018, teacher friends. The work you do is noble.

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