Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Tips for Parents in Week 1 of School (& Some for Teachers Too!)

In Australia children are returning to school and some are turning up for the first time. There are many tears, and that's not just the parents and teachers! Yes, there are many anxious children as well. As always, it's a challenging time for children, parents & teachers. Having received many children on their first day at school as a teacher, having sent my own children to school in Kindergarten, and having worried over grandchildren heading off on day one, I have some experience as a worrier! So I thought I'd offer some quick Do's and Don'ts for parents and teachers.

PARENTS

DOs

#1 Assume the best of your child's teachers, not the worst. Give them a chance to get to know your child and encourage your child to show them respect.

#2 Try to help teachers understand your child by telling them things that will help (when you have a chance). This might include health issues, fears about school, special interests (help them with points of connection).

#3 Try to get to know some other parents from day one. This will help to give you a small support group, maybe someone to call to see if their child has the school note your child has lost, or to discuss the project work that is due, how the swimming carnival works etc.

#4 When they get home (especially in the early weeks) let them rest, feed them, & allow them some down time before asking the 20 questions you'd stored up.

#5 Pace yourself, there will be MANY years of school. Let your child grow into school and try to learn afresh as a parent what school is like now compared with when you were at school. 

DON'Ts

#1 Don't assume that your child is the only bright kid at school and tell the teacher as much on day 1. EVERY parent thinks their child is gifted. Let your child show their teacher some of the great things they can do.

#2 Don't criticize your child's teacher in front of your child. This will make it harder for your child to respect their teacher.

#3 Don't make comparisons between your child and other children, especially to your child.

#4 Don't hassle teachers from day 1 about homework, allow the year to get rolling before firing such questions at them.

#5 Don't expect the teacher to know your child as well as you do from day 1

TEACHERS

DOs

My eldest daughter on her first day of school
#1 Be patient with parents, especially those sending their first children off in the early weeks, this is a tough time for many.

#2 Inform them as soon as you can about your expectations on things like homework, special activities, and your approach to discipline.

#3 Let them know how they can contact you if they have questions. An email address will reduce many fears and DO try to answer them as quickly as possible.

#4 Look for good things in each child. While not all will be brilliant (even though their parents might think they are), there will be things that are worthy of praise and encouragement.

#5 Make yourself available at pick-up time to chat, answer the odd question and simply show that you're interested in connecting children with their parents.

DON'Ts

#1 Don't overwhelm parents with information early, keep guidelines to a minimum at first.

#2 Don't assume that parents have little to offer, while some may have unrealistic expectations, they will know their children well. Tap into their insights when possible.

#3 Don't ever talk about a child to the parents of a classmate.

#4 Don't expect too much of parents too early in relation to homework. Like you, they will be busy at the start of the year. A few might pester you for it but try to maintain a balanced approach.

Other Related Posts

1. 'Starting School: Is there a best perfect age?'

2. 'Making Homework More Relevant and Useful for Learning'



2 comments:

Megan said...

The beginning of the school year can really be such a challenging time for all involved. I am a Kindergarten teacher so I have experienced the challenged from the teacher stand point. I have seen the struggle students and parents have with the adjustment as well. I think it would be helpful for parents to read these “do’s” and “don’ts”. #2 – I send home a form for parents to fill out on the first day of school. The form includes more than just the basic contact information. The form includes questions about the child’s strengths, weaknesses, interest, etc. I believe in the importance of getting to know your students and getting a little snapshot at the beginning of the year helps. Love the point about parents should encourage their child to respect their teacher! There needs to be respect in the classroom. The “do’s” and “don’ts” for teachers are just as important. I LOVE #4 on the “do’s” list! Every child has a strength! Also, the importance of building a relationship with the parents…the parental support is one of the keys to success!

Trevor Cairney said...

Thanks for your insightful comment Megan, I appreciate the time you took to share it with other readers. I'm glad you found my own comments helpful.