As a new school year begins, I am very happy to offer ten tips for parents and caregivers. In order to begin the school year on a positive note, there are a few things you can do, or avoid, in order to take the first steps to helping your child have a wonderful school experience.
First, make sure you make an effort to touch base with your child's teacher. Send a quick note assuring him/her that you are looking forward to meeting them and seeing what's in store for the year. Many parents will be invited to an Open House night. Attend! It is vitally important that you get there to hear the information, routines, requirements and see the classroom environment. Your child will see that his/her education is of primary importance to you. Remember, they will value what you value. If school is not important to you, it won't be for them either. By opening up the lines of communication, you will be able to help your child succeed and immediately tackle any problems your child might encounter.
Second, empty the backpack/schoolbag immediately and READ all the papers and notices. It is so unfortunate that parents, and consequently, children miss out on so much just because they didn't read important notices and letters.
Third, keep expensive things home! Many times children will want to bring important things to school to show to friends. Toys, mementos, jewelry, unnecessary money, and other items that have special value should not be sent to school since the teacher cannot keep those items from getting broken, lost or stolen.
Fourth, let your child wear comfortable clothes to school. Unless it is "picture day," play clothes are the best. Comfortable shoes, not flip flops or heels, are the way to go. You need safe shoes with rubber soles for play. Also, items that need lots of buttons, or a belt, or have difficult snaps are a big problem, especially for the little ones. Unless they already know how to tie, shoes with hook and loop closure are the best.
Fifth, send a lunch and snack to school that your child will eat! It sounds silly, but many, many times kids will not eat the lunch that was provided. This is not the time to try out new foods or add things that your child has not tried before.
Sixth, if they are sick, complaining about not feeling well, coughing a lot or throwing up, KEEP THEM HOME! Sick children don't learn and keep other from learning too, and can infect everyone else. If you think your child is complaining because they don't want to go to school, find out why and let the teacher know immediately. It might be problems with another child, recess or lunch issues, or bus troubles, just to name a few.
Seventh, provide a quiet place for them to do their homework. Check it before they put it away and let the teacher know if they had a problem getting it done correctly or in a timely fashion. Make sure all books and papers are returned to the backpack so that items are not forgotten the next day.
Eighth, don't compare your child with others in the class. Children need to be compared to themselves, noting growth for each year. Each state has grade level norms that show parents and teachers what benchmarks children should be reaching, and this is what teachers will use to prepare lessons and also to show parents what skills have been mastered or those that need to be learned. Progress for each child is confidential, so sharing information about other students is not permitted.
Ninth, if you any concerns, contact the teacher immediately. Don't wait until report card time. Make sure you get the teacher's input and all the facts, before drawing any conclusions. If your problems cannot be addressed after conferencing with the teachers involved with your child's education, make an appointment with the school principal.
Tenth, keep a scrapbook to celebrate all the wonderful things your child does this year. They will love looking at it, and so will you!