The first day of school is fast approaching, and for most kids this day is full of excitement and new everything. For first timers though, (like kindergarteners or kids attending a completely new school) the first day of school can be more stressful than thrilling.
But what about us parents? We also get nervous on the first day of school. I must admit that I definitely get a little anxious. With a five-year-old entering kindergarten and stepkids going into 5th and 12th grade, I worry if my kids will like their new teacher and classmates; if their school is safe and if they’re being challenged intellectually at school. But then I remind myself of the vital advice I give to the new parents I also meet every August. As an educator, I reassure myself the same way I comfort those worried parents about any potential concerns they may have about the upcoming school year.
In my 13 years of teaching kindergarten, I have seen a few cryers on the first day of school, but almost always it is a very brief bit of separation anxiety. What never ceases to amaze me is how children quickly recover and adapt to their new school setting , but not so much for the parents’ case. I’ve also witnessed parents crying on the first day of school! The truth is, as adults and creatures of habits, we have a harder time adapting to change than most kids. And in this high-tech society we are living in, adults tend to have difficulty staying abreast of the constant changes in our kids’ schools. That is why we must stay well-informed about school news and events. But more so, we must also have realistic expectations of what each new school year will bring (especially if you have middle and high schoolers). As both an educator and a mom, I have had the privilege of learning valuable tips needed for a positive school year; not just for students but also for parents. Here are some really helpful tips for those of us with school-aged children from a teacher’s perspective:
First things first, prioritize and get to bed earlier. The lazy summer days and the late nights can affect your child’s sleeping patterns. Over the summer kids have very little to no structure or routine at all. This, in turn, can affect a child’s ability to adjust to the structure of a classroom. So the first advice is to make sure children start going to bed at an earlier time at least one week before school starts. This way, their internal clocks can prepare for the early rising and rigors of the school week. Restarting the school-night routine will remind kids of what to expect in school.
New teachers, new beginnings
Take it easy on new teachers, especially younger, first-time teachers. As an educator, I remember how unsettled a few parents were when they first met me. I was straight out of graduate school and very young and unseasoned in my profession. But I was thankful to those parents who entrusted me with their little ones and allowed my creative freedom to foster a positive and rich environment as a new teacher. Hence, give rookie teachers the chance to show you what they’re about. Sometimes younger, fresh teachers can offer more energy and up-to-date technology in their delivery of instruction.
Don’t compare teachers
Be open to new and different styles of teaching. Don’t compare your child’s new teacher to last year’s. What may have worked for your child’s teacher last year won’t necessarily work again.
Volunteer in your child’s classroom/school. Even a brief showing of your face on campus or dropping off supplies will make your child feel like you care about his/her school. This will also make your child feel as if you are connected with the school climate.
Don’t do your child’s homework
Not much to expound here, other than creating crutches for our kids now will make them dependent adults. Homework should be a reflection and reinforcement of material covered in class, and it really should not be over-polished by adult assistance. Also, to teachers, it’s pretty obvious when parents have done much of their kid’s homework.
The “S” word
Yes, let your kids STRUGGLE! There is growth in failures, especially for older kids in higher grades. We really underestimate how much our kids can adapt to problems and even failures. Also, a few bumps in the road teach valuable lessons like time management and prioritizing. I always teach both my children and students that life is not always about triumphs…Trials will yield fruit!
Pray without ceasing
It goes without saying — always pray for your kids. But please, pray also for the teachers, administrators and overall school safety. This is vital, and the only way we will have the calm assurance that God is ultimately in control — not us.
As loving parents, we pray our kids succeed academically and socially; we hope that our kids will mesh into the school climate easily and make friends almost immediately. But as good stewards acting in faith, we must also trust in the Lord and lean not on our own logic and reasoning.
Just because you are a parent, does not mean you’re an expert on kids. After all, teachers spend the most time working with and getting to know kids at a very personal level more than any other profession, so consider the insight your child’s new teacher will give you this year. But ultimately, the best advice a mom and teacher can give is to just pray for your children and schools, and trust in him completely with your little ones.
Linda Romero Nuñez is a wife, mom, step-mom and a full-time teacher who enjoys writing recreationally. Email firstname.lastname@example.org