back to school

by gurumommy on August 17, 2010

in from the desk of

Wow!  Where did summer go?  Everyone has returned from their time off and it’s a new school year.  As school begins, it evokes excitement, seeing old friends, meeting new students, moving into a different grade, and being in class with new teachers. As a parent, you also know that it brings about new challenges and some anxiety to all involved.  As they say, “Expect the unexpected,” and you’ll never go wrong.  I recently had a chance to sit down with Nick Ip a 4th grade teacher at a local private school in L.A. and ask him for some teacher tips for back to school:

These tips allow you to start off on the right foot for you, your child, and your teachers.  After all, it will be a year long working partnership for everyone involved.  So, my top teacher top five tips for the new year are:

  1. Introduce Yourself and your Child
  2. Share your Concerns and Special Needs
  3. Practice “Do’s and Don’ts”
  4. Prepare your Child for School
  5. Enjoy the Journey!
  • Introduce Yourself and your Child.  Good, strong relationships are the key to a successful school year.  Get to know your teachers early.  Introduce yourself and your child.  However, make it memorable!  During the first few weeks of school, teachers are bombarded with new names and meeting many people.  I suggest going beyond simple “generic” talk.  Share and/or ask something unique.  This way, your teacher will remember you.  Perhaps the best proof to whether you are successful is if your teacher remembers your name at the second meeting.  That said, please don’t hold it against your teacher if they forget.  Teachers are human.  Over time though, you’ll develop a strong rapport.
  • If you have Concerns and/or Special Needs Share them Early.  If this applies, make an appointment early with your teachers.  Don’t relegate it to a quick conversation in the hallway.  At the same time, recognize the best way to voice your concern is via a meeting when your teacher can give you their undivided attention (i.e., class is not in session).  Share your concerns and observations as well as your child’s needs.  That said, allow your teacher the time to form their own opinion.  It will take time for your teacher to get to know your child.  Maintaining an on-going dialogue with your teacher is essential, but don’t smother your teacher.  In other words, “helicopter parents” are not appreciated.  Teachers are not responsible only for your child, but also for every student in their classroom as well as others in the school.
  • Practice “Do’s” and “Don’ts.”  While easier said than done, here are a couple of self-explanatory “Do’s” and “Don’ts” to adhere to:
Do’s Don’ts
  • Develop a strong parent-teacher partnership
  • Assist your teacher in understanding your child
  • Communicate with your teacher/child
  • Allow your child to struggle in order to build independence
  • Let your child develop into their own person and find their own passions
  • Allow your teacher to teach
  • Trust your teacher as having the best interest in mind for your child
  • Compare your past school experience to your child’s current experience
  • Live vicariously through your child
  • Make one-sided decisions/judgments based on your child’s recounting
  • Build an “Us” versus “Teacher” syndrome
  • Be defensive
  • Smother your teacher
  • Prepare your Child for School.  Being prepared and establishing good habits early are essential for school success.  This is especially true at the beginning of any academic year.  Planning your weekly schedule and carving out specific times to do homework are important.  Going to bed and waking up early comes with the territory.  The important element is routine and providing clear and realistic expectations as a parent.  As a teacher, there is nothing like seeing a student who arrives each day, confident that their homework is done and ready-to-learn.
  • Enjoy the Journey! Inevitably, all students have their “ups and downs” during an academic school year.  Experiencing challenges is not always a bad thing.  Many times, it means you are growing. Remember, “Stressed grapes make the best wine.”  I say enjoy the journey!  You’re only young once.

Each school year brings about its own new set of challenges and surprises.  That said, it doesn’t mean you can’t be prepared.  By following the above-mentioned tips, your child will be on their way to a victorious school year.  As teachers, we were once students ourselves.  We understand the feelings of starting school and experience it each year.  Why not make each new school year a time for newfound success.  Keep in mind that teachers are the number one cheerleader for their students.  Let’s work together to make this year a memorable one!

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: