Here we are parents, those last days of summer break are waning away and the new school year is quickly approaching. For some parents, it’s a sad time as they realize the summer break has come to an end and they will once again be away from their children for several hours each day. Dropping a child off at school for the first day of Kindergarten or even the 20th day of the 5th grade can be stressful for many parents. Sometimes, separation anxiety is far worse for the parent than it is for the child.
For others, it’s a time of celebration as they eagerly anticipate those five glorious days of freedom from having to schedule summer activities or listen to their children destroying the house every day. I can already envision some of the mom’s groups as they mentally prepare to pop open that bottle of wine and celebrate together as soon as they make it away from the school car line on that wonderful first day back to school.
Okay, maybe not wine, but I can clearly picture the huge smile and sigh of relief that many will have when they know their children are finally in someone else’s care for up to 8 hours per day. For the parents who work from home or who stay home to raise the crew, those hours of peace and quiet are heavenly. For those who work outside of the home, school replaces the nanny or daycare needs and allows the parents to worry less about spending money on extended childcare hours.
Whether you are a parent who wishes summer break could last longer or you’re one who’s been anxiously anticipating that first day so life could return to a somewhat peaceful time, there are a few things your child’s teacher wants you to know as you prepare to send your little one, or even the older ones, back to school this year.
Yes, The Supply List Is Necessary
It never fails, but every year just before school begins, social media runs rampant with people complaining about the school supply list. Why exactly do we need to purchase Clorox Wipes or Kleenex for the school? Do our children even use Expo markers? Will our one child even use that many pencils or glue sticks in 180 days of school? The quick answer to this is, most kids may not use Expo markers or even see a Clorox Wipe after the first day of school, but yes, they will use the pencils and glue and paper and yes, the other items are important as well.
Throughout the school year, especially when fall hits and during the early days of winter, kids get sick. They bring their cold and flu germs to school and inevitably, the little noses begin to run and the sneezing begins. Those Kleenex go fast and even if your child does not have their own personal box of Kleenex sitting on their desk at all times, they will be able to grab one from a box and use it. Hand sanitizer and soap and towels ae all necessary as well. Any teacher can tell you, the less product they have in the classroom, the more kids are going to miss school due to catching colds and flu or strep throat.
Yes, those 1.5-inch binders are used and your child is going to need those plastic pocket folders with the prongs that every store runs out of just before you are able to buy one. The fact is, many people simply cannot afford to spend $50 or more for school supplies, and this means that your child’s teacher is going to head to the local Walmart or Target and pry their debit card from their wallet to purchase those necessary items so every child in his or her class can feel comfortable in the classroom and have the necessary materials to complete their work. On average, a teacher spends between $300 and $500 annually on school supplies.
Some spend far more. Think about it. When a classroom has a party and the teacher decided to bake cookies or prepare a meal I the classroom, it is the teacher who pays for the extras for up to 20 or more kids. Some teachers even buy Christmas gifts or other holiday goodies throughout the year. While this is great and our kids love it, we seldom take time to thank the teacher for going above and beyond the typical teaching duties when they do the fun things for the kids.
When we, as parents, have our pay deposited to our bank account, do we want to head to the local shop to buy someone else’s kids school supplies? No, most of us don’t want to do that. We have our own families to support. Guess what folks? It may come as a shock but our children’s teachers have their own families as well but because they care so much for each child in their classroom, they fork out their own money to ensure every child learns while at school.
If you can purchase a few extra items on your child’s supply list, that is great and the teacher as well as the students who need the supplies will be happy to have them. A great idea each year, if you can afford it, is to give the teacher a gift card to help him or her purchase items as they need them for the classroom. Gift cards don’t need to be expensive. Even a $5 card will help when a teacher is out shopping for supplies.
If you are truly not able to purchase the items on the supply list, your child’s teacher will understand. Times are tough and a majority of the population is struggling financially. The best approach to this is to speak to the teacher and let them know the situation. Teachers care and they are understanding. It’s that simple.
Raise That Hand and Speak!
For most parents, they know their children can speak. After all, we spend countless hours every day trying to get them to quieten down around the house. Oddly enough, for many children, once they walk through the doorway to the classroom, they forget to use their voice.
Oh, they can sit at their desk and chat with friends or they can make odd noises or even be quite annoying in the classroom, but when they need to use their voice the most, many children clam up and stay quieter than a mouse hiding from a cat. These times include speaking up when they don’t understand something the teacher is teaching the class. Asking for clarity. Raising a hand and simply asking the teacher for direct help with a problem.
For instance, your child’s teacher has taught a math lesson for two days straight and has gone over every detail of how to solve the problem. Your child comes home with homework and they sit and stare at the paper for an hour without ever using their pencil to answer even the first question. Many parents today will look at a math paper and stare at it in the same way their child has. The way math is taught today, in many classrooms across America, is simply not the way parents learned it when they were in school. Let’s face it parents, sometimes our elementary aged children’s math homework can make us feel dumb.
We need to teach our kids to raise their hands and ask for help from their teachers when they do not understand something. Sure, it wouldn’t hurt for us parents to gain a little help ourselves at learning how to complete the math problems as our children are learning but we need to know that our kids are able to reach out for help when they need it.
Help your child understand that their teacher is there to teach them. If they don’t understand, the teacher is going to be happy to help them. They will not, I mean this, the teacher will not yell at them or be upset. They are there to teach and when they can help a child learn something new, that teacher feels happiness. After all, that is why they became a teacher in the first place.
Lullaby and Goodnight
Ah, the summer months in many homes look something like this. There is no set bedtime, kids run and play all day or they sit on the couch and play video games all day. The rules they grew to know during the 9 months or so while in school seem to be out the window as soon as summer break starts. They stay up until they can no longer keep their eyes open and they wake at noon.
Now however, summer is dwindling down and your children must get used to a new school year including not only classroom work, but also going to bed early and rising when it is still dark outside. For far too many children this means taking quite some time to adjust to a new schedule and trying to be alert for 8 hours a day in the classroom.
If your child has not yet started back to school, now is the time to begin those early bedtime rituals and work to rise early. Even for parents, this is not always easy, so do be understanding when your child whines or complains when you start telling them to go to bed hours earlier than they have all summer.
It’s one of the toughest things to do, but once you get your child used to a school sleep schedule, it is one of the best things for them during the school year. Kids who are tired during school tend to mentally drift away during class time. Some even fall asleep during class, and we all know how bad that can be for the learning environment.
As a parent, you may be interested in knowing that sleep deprivation doesn’t just make a person feel tired. There are many things that are effected by lack of sleep and for kids this includes:
- Crankiness, irritability and an overall lousy mood
- Hyperactivity in children
- Unable to concentrate during school
- Behavioral problems
- Inability to memorize lessons
- Poor decision-making skills
- Slow reaction times
- Lower creativity skills
It is best to try to keep children on a permanent bedtime schedule, even during the summer, although for many parents, that is not an easy thing to do. This is especially true for parents with kids aged 8 or older. The younger ones will often go to bed without hassle but the older they get, the more difficult maintaining that early bedtime will be. Even with the older kids however, trying to get back on the school sleep schedule is much easier if you start a week or two prior to the first day of school. This way, hopefully, they will be ready to rise and shine early when school is back in session.
To help ease your child back into a normal sleep schedule, try maintaining quietness after a certain time. Limit television after a specific set time and with small children, try playing quiet lullabies or soothing sounds to help lull them to sleep.
You Can’t Always Get What You Want
Mick Jagger may have sung it well back in 1969 when the song was originally recorded, but today, it is not only nice to hear the song occasionally, but it’s important to use the title and embed it in your child’s mind.
Starting at a young age, it is important to teach our children that just because they want something, it does not mean they can always have it. When we allow our kids to have everything they want, not only do we teach them that they never need to work for anything, but we are, in truth, desensitizing them from feeling appreciative.
In a classroom environment, when a child is told no to something, it can lead to whining or disruptive behavior in the learning environment if the child has not yet learned that not everything in life will be handed to them just because they want it. Teaching kids to earn what they want also teaches them social skills they will use the rest of their lives.
A’s must be earned with hard work and study time. Awards for perfect attendance or for being the fastest runner in gym class are not handed to those who miss school or those who walk instead of running. Sure, many schools still hand out participation awards, but for the most part, the things the children want most are the very things they need to work to receive.
As parents, we need to work to teach our children to work hard in life, especially during the school years, to achieve their goals and get the things they want. Leaving this up to the teacher is not only unfair to the teacher, but to your child it can make it seem as if they are being singled out and picked on. Teach your children well and they won’t grow up feeling as if the world owes them anything.
Hard work pays off.
The most important thing that your child’s teacher wants you to know is that your child needs you to be there. The teacher will do all they can in the classroom and will give them the right knowledge and tools to continue learning once they leave the school setting, but as parents, it is our job to ensure our children continue learning once they come home.
Take them to a museum or a nature habitat, sit down and read to them or let them read to you or just try to find something educational about any place you go. Even a trip to the grocery store can be an ideal learning resource as you show them how to make lists or how to budget money for groceries. Your children learn more from you than you realize, so make every day a great day for you teach your child about life and the world around them and let them know how wonderful learning new things can be, and when they get to the classroom, they will be just as eager to pay attention and learn new things from their teacher.