Ah, the first week of school! As a teacher for the last 17 years, it’s still exciting and fun for me, but some elements of the day are more difficult than others. Here are some ways to put a big smile on your child’s teacher’s face and make “Week One” a little less stressful for everyone.
1. Get your kid to sleep at an earlier bedtime a week before school starts. Tired students have a difficult time adjusting to the back-to-school routine. Physical exhaustion only leads to increased tears and tantrums.
2. Label all of their belongings. This applies all year, but in the beginning, the teacher won’t be able to recognize your kid’s backpack, sweater, or lunch box. (Later in the year, you have a better chance that we will recognize it.) Teachers always check to see if there is a name—sadly, there rarely is.
3. Double check that backpack. I send a lot of important information to my student’s parents the first week of school: papers to be signed and returned, lunch information, calendars—that’s just off the top of my head. And my students and their backpack is my Pony Express. If parents don’t check those backpacks every day, paperwork goes unsigned and problems arise.
4. Turn in those emergency cards ASAP. Believe it or not, your child can (and many do) get sick the first week of school. If we can’t contact you, your poor baby is sick in the office and sometimes crying for you. Even worse, what if a true emergency arises, such as a trip to the ER? We need to be able to get a hold of you.
5. Help with student drop-offs and pick-ups. Traffic around the school will be insane that first week of school. See if the staff could use a volunteer, even if it’s just pointing students in the general direction of their new classroom.
6. Ask the teacher if you can donate something to the room. I’m not talking about a new computer or anything expensive like that. I mean a box of tissue or a baby wipes—the teacher will know what she needs most. There are certain small items that every teacher has to buy because what the school supplies simply isn’t enough. When parents donate, it takes the financial burden off the teacher.
7. Nail down routines and don’t waver from them. Your child will be learning all sorts of new routines at school, but some should be established at home, ahead of time. If your child is going to eat lunch at school, does she have lunch money and know her lunch account number? Does your child know how he’s getting home each day? If not, he may just decide to walk home with a new best friend… that you’ve never met.
8. Pack your kid a sack lunch the first week of school. The cafeteria line is insanely long during that first week since most students tend to eat school lunch. Add new students into the mix who are learning the routines, and the wait can be most of lunch time. Bypass all that and send a lunch. Your child will thank you, and you will give the school the added bonus of fewer students to push through the process. (Plus, their eating time won’t overlap with their lunch recess time.)
9. Drop your students off with a hug and a kiss—then disappear. This is especially true for younger students. If they’re apprehensive, and see their parents hanging around, it not only increases their anxiety, but it also gives them false hope that they can possibly convince you to forget this whole thing called school. Plus, teachers really don’t like having to pry students’ hands off the chain link fence, in an effort to get them in the room. Once you leave, it is so much easier to encourage the majority of students to enter the room on their own.
10. Make sure you’re on time for pick-up at school, or the bus stop. The first week of school is exhausting for teachers and office staff—there are mounds of paperwork and things to get done. If your child isn’t picked up on time, either the teacher or another staff member has to stay with them, which means paperwork isn’t getting done. A prompt pick-up is really appreciated, and if an emergency pops up, call the office so that everyone knows what’s going on. It shows the staff you care about their time, and it is a comfort to your child.
Photo credit: Aaron Fulkerson via Flickr