Ahhhh, summer is winding down and it’s time to kick the school days into high gear! For some parents, back to school is a hallelujah moment- no longer do you have to remember if this week is basketball, robotics, or art camp week and the grocery bill can come down from astronomical status to just too dang high status.
For others, it is bittersweet. Trading in pool bags for back packs, picnic baskets for lunch boxes and lazy mornings for alarm clocks. No matter what, the “mom anxiety” is setting in- “When will they put out the school supply list?” “Which teacher will James have and will she understand him?” “Did we read enough over the summer?” I recently read a post on my school’s Facebook page discussing which Trapper Keeper is on the supply list. Huh? That was on the list? Annnnnnd just like that, I am already behind!
Well, have no fear; a former teacher is here to help you navigate through the adventurous road of the upcoming school year. First thing’s first- your child’s teacher is your friend. Not like the friend you would take to a Beyoncé concert, but a friend that you are entrusting your precious angel to for the next 178 days. So, here are some tips to make your school year smooth sailing!
The Teacher Assignment
Finding out who your child has for a teacher can be a nerve racking moment for parents. In fact, my mom friends and I call it The Teacher Draft. We scout (stalk) the new recruits to find out their teacher stats. “Mrs. Hall does a unit on genetics, complete with DNA tests!” “Mr. Davidson has the highest reading scores in the district!” Then, we wait for the call…………”The 1st pick in Mrs. James’ 5th class goes to…..”
So, when you get “the call” keep it short and sweet. Do let your teacher know about any serious allergy issues, or anything that she will need to know on the first day. Don’t go into a long-winded speech about little Johnnie’s likes and dislikes. Mrs. James has allotted exactly 3.5 minutes to your phone call, 3 minutes of which is a script she had been told to read by her principal. If you need to tell Mrs James that Johnnie is not a morning person and he prefers all academics to begin after 11 am, make an appointment.
Is it just me, or has the school supply list grown exponentially over the past few years? We all know why (*cough* lack of education funding *cough*) and unfortunately, parents need to fill in the gap. When you start to add up the cost of 10 notebooks, a new backpack, 8 glue sticks and hand sanitizer it is very tempting to cut corners. You tell yourself, “What will it hurt if I buy the no name crayons? Geez, they are like 25 cents less, that could save me $1.25!”
Well, I am here to tell you not all crayons are made equal. It makes a difference whether you buy off brand crayons. There is a reason they are 15 cents a box- they break after two uses and the colors are way off! You don’t want your kid to come home with a dehydrated looking Christmas tree picture.
But, if you are having a difficult time buying all of the supplies that you need, check out these backpack and supplies giveaways. If you can afford an extra pencil box or two, donate them to your child’s school. Nothing makes a teacher happier than a fully stocked supply closet!
Meet the Teacher Night
Let me let you in on a little secret-your child’s teacher is just as nervous to meet you as you are to meet her! Teachers are Academy Award Status in front of little people, but put them in front of adults and most go into full panic mode. That being said, Meet the Teacher night should be a casual teacher introduction, an opportunity to see the classroom set up, and maybe gain a bit of insight on their teaching style.
Don’t corner the teacher and make her defend her philosophy on education like she is defending her dissertation. This is not the time to ask how will she teach Math standard 3.6(a)(ii). You wouldn’t want Mrs. James coming to your workplace asking for your interpretation of page 62 of the employee handbook, right? Keep the questions to ones that only require short answers because she needs to “work the room”. Think E! News Red Carpet questions, not Anderson Cooper.
When I get an e-mail from one of my son’s teachers asking to chaperone an event, I jump at the chance. Mainly because I take any advantage I can to get out of my office and be a kid again. But, some parents recoil at the email subject line “Parents needed for Museum Field Trip”, and that’s okay.
Parent involvement can take many forms. You can cut out lamination, make name tags, organize science kits, anything to make your teacher’s life a bit easier. The important thing is to make an effort to be engaged in your child’s education. You don’t need to head up every PTA committee, but do make an appearance every once an awhile.
On the flip side, there is such a thing as being too involved. When other parents think you are on staff, it is time to fall back. A healthy level of involvement would be somewhere in-between being asked “Are you new to the school?” in April and having your own key fob to the building.
So here’s to early bedtimes, homework, permission slips, and parent-teacher conferences! Go forth and make it the best year ever!