Back to School: 6 Things Your Child’s Teacher Wants You to Know

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The following post was written by contributor Emily Carter of The Pilots Wife.  It originally appeared in September 2010.

The time is upon us again. Back to School is in full swing across the country. As you are gathering your supplies and shopping for new clothes, I wanted to share some thoughts on heading back to school from a teacher’s perspective.

Your child’s teacher might not share these things with you, but I can assure you, they will be thinking them!

6 Tips for Heading Back to School

1. View This Year as a Clean Slate

Last year your child may have had their very favorite teacher (or maybe not-so-favorite). Regardless of the previous teacher, look at this new year as a chance to start fresh.

Your new teacher will probably be different than last year’s so give your child some time to adjust to different expectations and routines.

2. Everyone is Nervous at the Beginning

Your child’s teacher is probably just as nervous as you and your child.  Most teachers, especially those of us in the elementary grades, get a little nervous speaking in front of a crowd of adults.

We had our “Meet the Teacher” night just a few weeks ago. In the hours before it began, I frantically put the finishing touches on my room and then delivered my son to a babysitter. When I got in my car to head to the school, my car battery was dead. A jump from a neighbor got me there just in time, but I slid into the room mere seconds before the parents, sweaty and stressed.

My point is this: if your new teacher makes a poor first impression, cut them some slack. They are nervous and excited too!

3. The Two Best Practices

The two best practices for back to school are a good night’s sleep the night before and a healthy breakfast that morning. You’ve heard it before, but well rested, well fed children have better attention spans and have fewer behavior problems.

If your child has gotten into the habit of staying up late and sleeping in over the summer, try moving their times back a half an hour at a time until they can wake up in plenty of time to get ready and eat a filling breakfast.

4. Stick to the School Supply List

Teachers make their School Supply List with their specific classroom and their specific routines in mind, so they have a specific purpose for the things they request.

This is probably most important for the things they say not to bring.

For example, if a teacher requests a three-ring binder, but no large trapper keepers. Or a pencil bag, but no pencil boxes. It may seem silly to you, but the teacher knows what will fit in the desks or storage areas, and what items will cause a problem.

If you want to purchase fun items that aren’t on your supply list, check with your teacher before sending them to school. Those items could always be used at home as an incentive to work on homework!

5. Stick to the Dress Code

This is a big one. I know that kids whine and complain  about what they wear to school. I’ve heard them! However, it will be a much bigger hassle if you are called to bring more clothes because your child’s outfit doesn’t meet dress code.

If picking out clothes before school is a huge fight, try picking out all five outfits on Sunday evening and then letting your child choose from the approved choices each morning. They still get the freedom to choose which outfit on which day, but the choices are limited and all appropriate for school.

6. Have a good attitude!

Your children take their cues on how to feel about school from their main teachers: you. Try to maintain a positive attitude about school and your teacher, and that attitude will rub off on your kids!

It has been a few years since I’ve taught in the elementary classroom. I took some time off when my son was born and last year I had a position outside of the classroom. This year I’ll be teaching third grade again, and I’m looking forward to the challenge.

Parents or other teachers, what are your best Back to School tips?

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Comments

  1. Emily, it looks so simple when you put it this way…

    I wholeheartedly agree that the teacher is a person and has moods, crises and emotions. It might be worth mentioning this to the kids too to afford the teacher even more slack. This will no doubt be returned when the time comes.

    On the teachers’ side, if something may seem silly on the resource list, it might be a good idea to explain. After all, parents are people too.

    Best regards,
    Ronit
    Family Matters´s latest post: I believe in you 3- Being Proud

  2. Thanks so much for this post, Emily! My Noah started kindergarten this year, and we are all adjusting to that change. I really appreciate the input here and will put your wise words to action.

    (today’s breakfast: buckwheat pancakes, fried egg, toast. That’s sturdy enough, right? :) )
    Aimee @ Simple Bites´s latest post: Back to…Cooking School- Roast Chicken 101 Recipe- Lemon &amp Oregano Roast Chicken

  3. Great tips, Emily! Dress code was a good – often overlooked- point. I used to think dress code was directed to older kids, but was surprised when I taught first grade, to find that there are plenty of clothes made for little girls that somehow aren’t seen as improper until those girls become preteens. It’s good to be aware from the beginning!
    Amanda Morgan´s latest post: The Best Books are Ageless

  4. Sticking to the teacher’s supply list is so important because sending your child to the classroom with items that don’t fit in their desk can cause extra stress during a new school year.
    Tina @ Kids Devil Costumes´s latest post: Girls Devil Costume

  5. As a former teacher, my advice is to remember that anything your child needs is multiplied by each other child. So make sure they have the tools to do things themselves, like put on their own coats, tie their own shoes, open their own lunchbox. It may only take you a second, but the teacher is dealing with ALL the kids. For example, when I taught daycare, one mom dropped her kid off in a too long Halloween costume and told me that I would have to carry her all day. Or there was one mom who would send her still diapered kid in wearing tights, a leotard (with no snaps), socks, shoes, jeans, and a turtleneck. We had to take everything off her for each diaper change and then redress her.

    On the other hand, my favorite mom bought her son mittens that had no thumbs in them. It took me three seconds to get those things on. Awesome.

  6. Number 2 really hit home for me. My son’s pre-k teacher was awesome with the parents, super outgoing and friendly. However, I left his kindergarten orientation feeling very un-excited about his kindergarten teacher. I’ve heard from other parents that she is great with the kids, but not very social with the parents. Number 2 above made me realize that maybe she is just shy. Maybe she teaches 5yr old because she is more confident with them then she is with grownups. This morning she hesitatingly came up to me to give me a progress report on my son (all good, yay!) and it made me feel awesome, but I could tell she was a bit nervous.

    Thanks for the reminder that even if teachers have been teaching for awhile they may still be nervous each new school year. Add in a few anxious first-time kindergarten parents (like myself!) and I can see where things can get confused.
    Tessa´s latest post: Lex

  7. Love this entry, Emily! It’s nice to see the method behind the madness of getting your kids back to school. I’ll be sure to Tweet it!

    I’m actually running a Back To School Writing Contest for kids right now on my website. Perhaps you could share it with your readers? There’s prizes in it for student and teacher alike ;)

    Cheers!
    ~Susie

  8. Great points! Love all of the tips, but it is so important to have a good attitude about going back to school. I am now a stay-at-home mom who still walks through the teacher supply stores every year and just gets excited about the new year. I now have daughter 2 and 4. Every year is a new year filled with great prospects and new learning opportunities.

  9. My aunt is a 5th grade teacher who has been teaching for 45 years–no kidding! She told me that she still gets nervous on the first day of school!

    I love all these tips. Here’s a bonus tip to add joy to the teacher’s year: find out (either ask the teacher or ask a colleague) what kind of gift would be most enjoyed. The teacher might have perfume intolerance and can’t use scented candles or certain lotions; they might have food allergies and won’t risk food gifts. They work really hard and have your kids in their care for the majority of the day…if you give them gifts, it’s always welcome but definitely more meaningful if they come with a specific thank-you note as well!

  10. Hi Emily, thanks for you very beautiful post! I have a couple of kids and they will be going to school pretty soon. I tell them stories about how cool it is to go to school, and they are very excited. Looking at them, trying to color stuff, write stuff only they understand in our Computer Desks For Home just makes my day! Thanks!

  11. Great suggestions! I have one more best practice to add. Say goodbye to your child and then leave. It’s harder on your child if you linger with the goodbyes. Working in a Pre-K 3 classroom, I’ve found it’s the moms who have more trouble than the child. If they stick around, the children cry and cry and that precipitates other children to join in. :)

    Blessings,
    Debbie
    Debbie´s latest post: Second Week of School

  12. Great back to school advice, all of it! Teachers will be pleased if their families are so well prepared!
    Sinea´s latest post: Five Minutes to a Clutter Free Home

  13. I couldn’t agree more with your TWO best practices – all the other hard work and preparation doesn’t matter if you send a child off with little sleep and poor breakfast. Thanks for the reminders!

  14. Number 1 hits home with me. My son’s favorite teachers were Kindergarten and First Grade. This year, his teacher is new to the school and he was so nervous about it. The first week, he kept comparing her to last year’s teacher. But now, starting week 3, he’s finally come to realize that this could be a positive thing. He’s excited again to go to school!
    Amy @ AboutOne´s latest post: Week in Review: Our Posts From This Week

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