A few years ago I found out our contributor, Kristin, had been hiding a very big secret from me – although she currently works as a professional photographer, she used to be a 1st grade teacher!
You guys, you cannot imagine how psyched I was when she let this little gem slip in an email. All the possible posts just started piling up in my head.
The very first thing I wanted her to write for us was a back-to-school post on all the critical things your child’s teacher wants to know about him or her to start the school year off right.
This year I am a school mom of two kids, with C heading to 2nd grade and S entering the world of Kindergarten – so this is stuff I really want to know.
Here’s Kristin with everything you need to know to initiate a fabulous relationship with your child’s teacher this year…
A good relationship with your child’s teacher can make your school year exceptional. Teachers are with our children as much as we are, so it’s important to look at the relationship as a team.
Years before I had my own children, I was helping to raise other people’s children in the form of being a first grade teacher. In my years of being a teacher, I celebrated successes with many parents and also cried with them over struggles. Teachers are truly invested in our children.
6 THINGS YOUR CHILD’S TEACHER WANTS TO KNOW
Heading into this new school year, I want you to know that teachers view this stuff as highly valuable information. Now that I’m a parent (and on the other end of the relationship) I know how important it is to open up with teachers from the beginning so that we don’t miss a step in growing healthy kids.
Most school years start off with a meet-the-teacher or a back-to-school night. Take advantage of this opportunity to talk individually with your child’s teacher.
Most of this information can be shared at this time, but you may feel more comfortable emailing the teacher with insights about your child. Either way, make sure to take the time in the first few weeks of school to share the following with your child’s teacher.
1) Start the year off by sharing with your teacher that you are open and available to communicate
By telling your child’s teacher that you want to communicate with him or her, you’re letting them know that you want to hear when there’s an issue on the playground and you’ll be sure to tell them when a rough weekend has left your child on the wrong side of the bed come Monday morning.
When you establish a dialogue, things don’t get out of hand.
I’ve heard stories of parents getting report cards with unexpected grades or hearing of a playground issue from another parent. I’ve also been a teacher wondering what is going on with a child who is out of sorts. Seeing all the pieces of a puzzle can help both a teacher and a parent.
2) Tell them what motivates your child (and what doesn’t)
In the classroom, we have 20-30 different personalities and each one operates in its own unique way. So, a verbal compliment can keep one child going strong for a week, another child might need a visible sticker chart on their desk to remind them to stay on track.
You’ve been raising your child long before the teacher has come into the picture, so sharing with them what has worked for you and what hasn’t will help them compliment your parenting style. And it’s okay to tell your child’s teacher what hasn’t worked!
Likely the teacher has dealt with many children and may have some new ideas to try out in the classroom and at home.
3) Share what your child’s special interests are
Teachers are making friends with each child in their classroom. If a teacher knows that your child loves rainbows, maybe a rainbow sticker could appear on their paper! Or if your child loves his pet dog, Frankie, a teacher can start a conversation asking about Frankie.
Sometimes getting to know children takes time, but if teachers have an idea of their special interests, it can get the conversations going. Think of all the learning that goes on in the classroom! If your child has a strong relationship with the teacher, they’ll be willing to work extra hard for them.
4) If you already know your child’s learning style, share that information with the teacher too
As teachers, we get all the previous years test results, but we may not know how the student got to that point. Some children are able to learn in a variety of ways. Other children are strongly suited for visual learning, auditory learning or tactile learning.
If teachers know from the beginning how your child learns best, they might be able to slightly adapt how your child studies for a spelling test, for example.
5) Talk to the teacher about how homework is going
Homework should be a reinforcement or practice of what has been taught at school. Maybe your child is spending hours at the kitchen table struggling through concepts they don’t know. Instead of silently suffering, you should share this information with the teacher.
The teacher can spend some more time going over a concept. If homework is too easy for your child, ask the teacher for some supplemental ideas. Teachers can recommend books to check out from the library, videos that extend the idea or extra assignments.
As teachers, we want your child to see to all of their potential. Don’t wait until half way through the year to talk to your teacher. We want to know from the beginning of the year what the patterns are with homework.
6) Keep them informed on health & behavioral issues that aren’t on your child’s paperwork
At the beginning of the school year, you’ll fill out forms to tell the teacher if your child has any allergies or special health concerns. As a teacher, I also want to know about things that may not be written on the forms.
Sometimes parents don’t let their children have sugar or dyes in their food because of how it affects their behavior. When we have birthdays or special occasions in class, food may be served. As a teacher, I always want to know what the at-home preferences are for each child.
Another example of a non-diagnosed illness are loud noises. Some children do not respond well to loud noises. Think about the fire drills we have at school. If you share with your teacher ahead of time that your child gets very scared around loud noises, the teacher can quietly let them know it’s about to happen and maybe hold their hand during the fire drill.
Telling your child’s teacher any helpful bits of information (that may not be written on the health forms) will make sure that he or she can work with you to make every day a good day at school.