Heading Back to School - Excitement or Anxiety?
Going back to school can be full of excitement, hope, anticipation, anxiety, and sometimes even fear. Along with the hope that this year will be the year that all of the pieces will fit into place and your child will finally get the teacher that understands them, is the fear that this year will be a repeat of the struggle and frustration of all the previous years.
Does it have to be that way?
Are there steps that you can take to establish a good learning environment for your child?
In this post I will give some helpful tips for going into the new school year with some strategies for helping to create a positive environment for your child's learning by building good relationships with the teacher and other school personnel.
Go to Welcoming Events
Attend any orientation or parent open house. At that event, offer to volunteer in the classroom or provide some classroom supplies (facial tissue, glue sticks, etc..) These are great opportunities to meet and greet your child's teacher, principal and any other school staff that will be working with your child this school year.
Meet One on One with the teacher
Ask for a parent conference (not a team meeting), to meet with the teacher. Talk about your child's strengths, interests, and learning style. Give the teacher insight into what works well with your child with their learning, focus, behavior, organization, etc. Let the teacher know that you want to work together throughout the school year for the benefit of your child.
Open the Lines of Communication
Establish a communication system between you and the teacher to keep up to date on what's happening in the classroom and at home. Good, open communication can prevent small issues from becoming large problems. It's important for your child when you establish a good rapport with the teacher.
If you start to see a behavior (like not wanting to go to school) let the teacher know so he/she can be aware of any issues that may be happening with the student. This could be a situation where the student is either struggling with academics or maybe other students. Kids usually act out to indicate when something is wrong.
Meet Again for Check-ins
Throughout the school year, set up 'check in' meetings. I suggest sometime around the middle of the school year. Similar to the first parent/teacher conference, this maintains your commitment to your child's education. This mid year meeting is a good opportunity to see how things are going and to reinforce your relationship with your child's teacher. Another great time to meet is towards the end of the school year. At this meeting talk about what went well, where your child is academically, and to plan for next year. Discuss the upcoming school year with the goal of getting things in place for the next grade. Ask about what teacher may be a good fit for your child going forward. Remember, these are not team meetings, just you and the teacher getting together for 20 - 30 minutes.
Be Part of Your Child's School Community
Become active in your school community. This could be joining the PTO (Parent/Teacher Organization), PAC (Parent Advisory Counsel), other other groups. This activity helps you to establish good relationships with school staff and other parents. Through your participation, you have an inside track on happenings in your child's school. Being involved demonstrates how important education is to your child.
I find that these activities keeps things running smoothly and in a positive way. I don't go in with the attitude of blaming or pointing fingers, I go with the attitude of 'I'm here to help and work together for my son'. My experience is that this is a good way to keep on top of what's happening and address concerns before they become major issues. Of course, if I have a concern, I can always reconvene the team and address them more formally. I can also relay the information that I've gathered at my son's annual review or three year re-eval meeting.
Of course, we all have busy lives and limited time to do everything. Do what you can within your schedule and availability. You don't have to be parent of the year, just be as involved as you can. Think of this time as your investment in your child's education. I have found that what my child and I get out of this far outweighs what I put in.
Please share this post with anyone that you think might benefit from these tips. Add any suggestions or helpful tips that you use by commenting below.
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