Helping Your Child's Teacher Enjoy Back to School

August 12, 2019 | by sara beth wald
sponsored by Billings Catholic Schools

Back to school is a bittersweet time as we trade in swimsuits for school books, and relaxed schedules are exchanged for routines and earlier bedtimes.

By the time the kids are heading back to the classroom, their teachers have already been there for weeks, blowing the dust off of their desks to prepare lesson plans and decorate their classrooms.

Many teachers also have children of their own. This means school supplies shopping (and then some), fresh haircuts, new shoes, and wrapping up summer at home as well as in their classrooms.

It’s an exciting time of year for teachers, but it can also be stressful. Teachers know that the first week of school can set the tone for the entire school year. That’s a lot of pressure to make it great!

Parents and kids can do their part to make that first week of school memorable for all the right reasons. Here are some tips to help your child’s teacher enjoy back to school:

Do your homework! If you’re anything like me, your best laid plans to listen to your child read aloud and practice some math problems every day all summer took a back seat to day camps and the ice cream truck. As back-to-school approaches, crack open some books, do some crafts, and work on telling time or counting change before the big day.

Prepare your child. The transition from summer to school can be tough! Your kids had a relatively structure-free life for several months. Start preparing them before the first day by reintroducing weeknight bedtimes. Have a refresher course on manners, raising their hand before speaking in class, and remind them of basic classroom rules such as keeping their hands to themselves and sharing. Teach your children how to introduce themselves politely, so they know how to address their new teacher on the first day.

Get excited. If you talk about how much you hated going back to school or act disappointed that summer is coming to a close, your child will pick up on these cues. Show your enthusiasm for the new school year by including a shirt with the school mascot in their new school clothes, or involve them in a scavenger hunt to find items on their school supply list at the store.

Dispel first day jitters. Have a talk with your child about how they’re feeling about going back to school. Give them a chance to talk about any fear or anxiety they may, and do your best to mitigate these prior to the first day.

Attend orientation. Particularly if your child will be attending a new school or if he or she is nervous about the first day, attending the school’s orientation beforehand makes that first day easier for kiddos as well as teachers.

Volunteer. Let your child’s teacher know during the first few days of school that you are available to help out in the classroom when needed.

A note of introduction. Include a brief hello note in your child’s backpack to give to his or her teacher that includes your name, phone number, email address, and a brief hello to start the year. This is a great space to let your child’s teacher know you are available to volunteer.

A welcome gift. Teachers are often remembered over the holidays and at the end of the school year, but it may be the first week that they really need the added boost. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to make a teacher smile. Let your child pick some fresh flowers from your garden, share a few extra supplies for the classroom, or make something at home to give to his or her teacher on the first day.

Return paperwork. Most parents cringe as their kids empty their backpacks after the first day. It’s hard to imagine the purpose behind all those forms requiring your signature. But there’s a method to the madness! Schools don’t love paperwork, either, so it’s safe to assume that if they ask for your signature, it’s important.

Set aside time on the evening of the first day of school to peruse paperwork, fill it out, and put it back in your child’s backpack to return the next day. A teacher’s time is better spent teaching rather than chasing after paperwork.

Your children’s education is a team effort! Let their teachers know you are all in this together. Be friendly, be patient, be kind, be encouraging, and be available when you can.

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