“It’s the most wonderful time of the year!” It’s back to school time! Stores have been packed to the brim with back- to-school items for quite some time now. Students and parents are excitedly navigating through the aisles with supply lists in their hands preparing for a fresh new year. No matter if you are excited or not, you are hoping this will be a great school year for you and your child. As an elementary school teacher of 10 years, I am here to give you some honest and helpful advice to help start the school year off right.
- Buy the supplies. Yes I said it. That “massive” list of supplies is needed. These aren’t just supplies for your child, but the whole class. You may be surprised to find out that your child’s teacher most likely hoards supplies like a doomsday prepper. Somehow a classroom is an abyss for pencils. Markers and glue dry out. During cold and flu season hand sanitizer and tissues become invaluable. It may seem like a lot of supplies. It may seem expensive, but it’s necessary.
- Show up. Show up to Meet the Teacher Night. Show up to Curriculum Night. Show up to conferences. Just show up. I know there are many working parents out there and time is precious but showing up gives you access to the important information. Don’t forget you are important role models for your children. Your active role helps show the importance of education to you and therefore models that idea for them.
- Get organized. Set up an area in your house that is dedicated to your children’s school stuff. Have a place to hang backpacks, lunch boxes, etc. Designate a spot in your house where children can unpack their folder that has important things for you to look over and sign. Have a calendar hanging with important school related dates and times so both you and your children can look it over. Don’t just assume since your child is getting older that they should be more organized. That takes modeling by you at home and follow through to help them learn the skills that are necessary to be organized.
- Be ready to read and communicate with the school. Teachers and schools send home a lot of papers, especially at the beginning of the school year. Read these papers. They are sent home for a reason. Don’t rely just on your child to tell you about them or hand them to you. Ask for them. In my classroom I sent home newsletters, wrote in a daily agenda, and communicated through two classroom websites. The information was always there and often I had a lot of parents ask questions to things I had already clearly communicated.
- Don’t let any negativity from the previous school year roll over into a new one. That’s the nice thing about school, you get a fresh new start each year with some new peers and a new teacher. Take advantage of that. There were many times on Meet the Teacher Night parents would decide this was the time to tell me all about the bad teacher from last year or how Jimmy and their son don’t get along. There is a time and place to share important past experiences from the last year, but try not to do it in front of your child. Write an email voicing your concerns if there is really something you feel the teacher needs to hear.
- Repeat this list each year. Even as your children get older. Trust me, they will need your help and support no matter what grade they are in.
Sure there are other tips, but this truly is a good place to start. No one is grading you as a parent but there is always room for improvement for all of us. After all, it will benefit you and your child to start the school year off right.