FOR PARENTS: What I Wish I had Known/Done Before Sending My Child to School

(Here on Squarehead Teachers, I don’t often write for parents specifically, but I thought I’d address some start-of school jitters parents have!) I asked a variety of teachers and parents to give me some tips that they wish they’d known or done before sending kids to school for the first time. If you have thoughts to add, please comment below!! So here are some tips for parents who are nervous about their kids starting school:

“How to get along with others, wait their turns, work in a group, etc. Also how to ask questions and be grateful and polite so teachers will like them.” – Carolyn, parent

“Having worked in daycare, but I’d say the need to prepare yourselves for separation anxiety. Leaving your child in the care of the teacher, firmly but lovingly reassuring the child you will return or see them after school and saying goodbye. Prolonging the goodbye and being overly emotional could be detrimental to the transition. I’d hope (especially in Kindergarten) that the teacher is prepared to make the student feel comfortable and quickly redirects the child towards an activity to help them ‘forget’ being dropped off.” –Matt, teacher

“Confidence and love.” –Brooke, parent

“Teach [them] to be fair and kind, [even if] others might not be that back!” –Michalle, parent

“Teach them the love of reading. Read to the child and have them read to you. discuss the books with them. Also, draw with your child. Give them something to draw with and on and encourage them to use the right side of their brains as much as possible. Sadly, by the 4th grade more than ninety per cent of their peers will be too bottled up with self doubt and anxiety to do any kind of creative activity.” –Dennis, teacher

Sending Kids to School sticker “Be as excited as possible when talking about [school] with them. They way the parent views it is often the way the child views it. Have the child pick out things to make them excited to go… for instance, their backpack, lunchbox, clothing, food for lunch and so forth. I’m most circumstances if your excited they will be too.” –Kristi, parent

“[Help your kids develop] a love and understanding for their classmates. The first week or two of kindergarten, [my daughter] kept coming home telling me about the “naughty” boy in her class and all of his antics. I just kept reminding her that maybe this is the first time he’s ever gone to school, or been away from his mom and dad. Told her how to be a good example to him, and to smile at him and be friendly.” –Beth, parent

“Develop an open line of communication with your child and your child’s teacher. This will ensure that you can help your child problem-solve when they run into something they don’t understand (content, assignment, behavioral expectation, etc). Also, having that effective communication developed with the teacher will ensure that you can work together to solve problems more effectively and efficiently. Remember, the teacher is NOT the enemy. Together you make a team that will greatly affect your child’s educational experience.” -Mindy, teacher

“[See what you can do to work] with them on letter and number recognition and sounds, and how to write their name. It’s not necessary but made me feel more relaxed once school started that my kids were familiar with all that.” –Beth, parent

“[Teach your kids to] be polite, say thank you and please. Keep hands to yourself and listen. Most important, have fun at recess and lunch.” –April, parent

“Having taught kindergarten, I couldn’t believe the mean girl/mean boy stuff starts so young. Kindness goes a long way! I really appreciated the kids who were kind to everyone in the class. Teach them to be respectful and kind to others and their teacher.  It will make for a great class and a great first school experience for everyone!” –Kimberly, teacher

“[In one of my master’s classes, we studied] a book called Teaching with the Brain in Mind, by Eric Jensen. It’s all about the brain and brain development. I wish I could assign chapter 2 to all parents of young children. It’s about what kids should know and be able to do before kindergarten.” –Rachel, teacher

“If you have the opportunity to visit and familiarize your child with the school sometime before the first day of school, that will help them gain some confidence regarding their surroundings. Likewise, arriving to school early on the first day will ease some stress and provide an opportunity to meet some of the other students.  Then, when you pick them up, make sure your schedule is clear so that you can devote solid time and attention to your child. Go out for ice cream and talk, or have a good snack at home, eat with them and ask questions and discuss their day just as you would a lunch date with another adult –in that you are showing genuine interest in your child.” –Erin, parent

“[Teach your kids the value of] respect for adults, the love of reading, and being totally excited for school! Also, not acting “too clingy.” I notice a lot of parents are so worried about their first graders and will “hover” (I call them helicopter moms! They just hang out by the classroom ALL the time!) 90% of the time the child is FINE and mom just needs to take a breather! [This kind pf parenting behavior prevents children from developing confidence.]” –Lindsey, teacher

“It is important to make sure the child knows what to expect at school and what he or she is supposed to do.” –Samantha, parent

“Send them a lunch they will eat and love. It’s worth the effort!” –Becky, parent

“Teach them the importance of organization. Help them set up a system ahead of time (or help them understand how the teacher’s folder system works, etc.). Be excited about what they bring home and find a specific place for it. Your example of being efficient and organized will save YOU and your child tons of time and headache when your child gets into more complicated schooling.” -Mindy, teacher

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