Goodbye free time. Hello school time. (Sniff sniff.) Anyone else bummed that summer break flew by too quickly? Or maybe you're the mom who has been crossing the days off calendars in red ink, anxiously awaiting school to start back up again since May?
My older girl is starting kindergarten in a few weeks and, in a mild panic about it, I posted 10 of the most sought-after requests by teachers on what our tots actually need to know before starting school.
It did so well that I thought to share 10 more teacher-requested, unconventional back-to-school tips. Here's what teachers really want us to do, as parents, before heading back to school:
From the perspective of a teacher who's got 20 to 30 kids staring at them everyday, every teacher I talked to said to make sure your kids get sleep. Apparently this is a very big deal and directly correlates with their ability to kick the school year off right. Sleepy kids means lackluster learners, which then wastes limited and valuable classroom time.
2. Remind kids what the word "no" means when a
grown up says it
We can all slack off about rules during summer ... because it's summer! Yes, you can have another (or, five) more popsicles. No, you don't have to brush your teeth. Sure, you can stay outside longer since you don't want to come inside yet. But back to school means back to business. Teachers need kids to be receptive and actually listen to them when they say things like "clean up your projects" or "it's not time to talk right now."
3. Get appropriate clothes
Double-double check your school's dress code. Yes, it might be a pain in the butt (it's sometimes a pain in the butt for teachers, too) but it's there, it's a rule and it's necessary to abide by if you don't want your kid's classroom time to be disrupted by a stupid disagreement about whether what your child is wearing is appropriate or safe for school. Don't push the envelope in the name of "self-expression"—it's not worth it.
It's a no-brainer; we all know this. You don't have to do massive tutorials at your kitchen table, just take a week or so to brush up on what your kid ended the school year with last year.
5. Double check and don't deviate from supply list requests
Yes, those fancy pens with the ombre colors are Pinterest-worthy. Yes, those notepads that glow-in-the-dark are as awesome as can be. But if your teacher-issued classroom supply list requests certain items like "one ream of plain white lined paper" then you need to abide by it. Thanks to budget cuts at some school districts, staff depend on parents to fill in the blanks where they can't. Supplies are often requested, collected and then put into one bit "pot" for teachers to distribute across grade levels and between classes.
6. Know your child's drop-off time and locations
We're trying to prep a classroom and have tons of meetings with administration to attend. Everything they need to know has been distributed.
This seems silly to even mention, but almost every teacher I talked to requested this from parents. "You'd be shocked how many emails and messages I get asking about 'What time do I drop them off and where exactly' the DAY before school starts," one teacher confided in me. "Not to sound rude, but we don't have time for those questions. We're trying to prep a classroom and have tons of meetings with administration to attend. Everything they need to know has been distributed via handouts, emails, etc... parents need to READ those." Bonus: Don't be late. You don't want your kid to be the disruption [arriving late to the classroom] on account of your lack of planning.
7. Don't ask the teacher a million questions on the
first day of school
Your job on the first day is drop them off on time and pick them up on time. Everything parents need to know for the first day of school has been pre-distributed and communicated (as stated above, read the handouts). If you absolutely have an issue that cannot wait, then an email to the teacher a few days before school is appreciated.
8. Don't tell your teacher how advanced your kid is and how they require specialized and accelerated attention for academic growth
Thanks, but no thanks. In the words of one particular veteran teacher I talked to, we can all be assured: No child will be bored in the classroom, they
9. Ask your kids about school ... every day
Parental involvement doesn't just mean volunteering in the classroom. Ask your kids about friends, recess, learning, their teacher, projects—everything. YOU need to know what's going on from their perspective, too. Every teacher I talked to said identified parent involvement is the key difference between a good learner and a not-so-great learner.
10. Give the
teacher credit that they actually know what they're doing
Bonding with kids
takes time. It takes a bit of time for the teacher to get to know your kid, and
teachers need your reinforcement and backup. Whether you like it or not, our children's teachers spend equal or more time with them during the day than we do and they know our kids and what makes them tick.
Also: Don't think it's a cool thing to go on a school or classroom's Facebook page and question certain classroom practices in an online forum setting. "Did anyone think that homework assignment was a bit extreme? Does anyone know why we need to send red markers tomorrow and why they just can't use what we already sent at the beginning of the year?" Newsflash: Your teachers are also checking in on that page and see the comments (and then parents wonder why the teacher might have limited patience with them —or worse, their kid—in person). Don't set your kid up for failure because of your inability to trust the teacher is doing their job according to district guidelines and what your particular classroom needs. If you have an issue that needs to be talked about, schedule a time to do it face-to-face, one-on-one, not on a message board.
The unconventional requests above help our teachers out big time. I mean, they've got enough issues to contend with that are completely outside of their control, which unfortunately often do take away from their ability to teach and kids' ability to learn. HELP. TEACHERS. OUT. Help them so they can do their jobs and teach our kids. Because one kid can ruin it for the rest. (That's my opinion on the record there.)
If you need me, I'll be running tutorials involving how to open snack bags with my soon-to-be schoolgirl in my kitchen (It's a kindergarten thing).