In Australia children are returning to school soon and some will be turning up for the first time. There will be many tears, and that's not just the parents and teachers! Yes, there will be anxious children as well. As always, it's a challenging time for everyone. Having received 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.
#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, are parents expected to attend the school fete or fundraising day 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've stored up.
#5 Pace yourself, there will be MANY years of school. Let your child grow into school, and as a parent try to learn afresh what school is like now compared with when you were at school or when you sent your first two children.
|My eldest daughter on her first day of school|
#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 Try to avoid projecting your anxieties as a parent onto your child. If they're worried about their teacher, don't fire questions at them to see if they've had some problems. If there are problems, they'll come out in the child's good timing.
#6 Don't expect the teacher to know your child as well as you do from day 1
#1 Be patient with parents, especially those sending their first child to school, especially 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 (perhaps make it a generic one if you wish to limit access) and DO try to answer them as quickly as possible but outline some simple rules.
#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.
#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.
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