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Tips for Parents of Elementary School Students from a Former Kindergarten Teacher

Last summer one of my best friends called me.  She was excited, emotional, and incredibly nervous because her baby was headed off to kindergarten. If she had called me 5 years ago, before I had kids of my own, my answer would have probably been along the lines of “Chill out. She’ll love it and you’ll live”.

However, now that I have kids of my own I totally understand all the crazy emotions one goes through when sending their babies off to school. So, in honor of all of you nervous parents out there, I am sharing the tips I gave to my BFF so that you too can help your little one have a great year at school.

1. GET TO KNOW THE TEACHER.

She will spend more time with your child during the day than you will. She will be responsible for helping your child grow socially, emotionally, and cognitively so go ahead and build a positive relationship with her. It will only benefit EVERYONE.

IMG_78702. SHOW UP.

Look, I know you probably don’t have time to be Super Volunteer and that’s ok!  (I work full-time now and can’t show up for everything.) But parents, show up for something: Lunch dates, performances, class parties. You don’t need to be a constant fixture but please show up for as much as your schedule allows. It makes your child feel special AND it keeps you informed with what’s happening at school.  

3. HOST PLAYDATES. 

Get to know the other kids. Get to know the other parents.  Heck, why don’t you ask the teacher who would be great to have over for a playdate. I mean, she IS the one who is watching and nurturing these relationships daily.

4. GET THE FACTS FIRST.

You can’t avoid elementary school drama. It’s real. It can be whiny and messy and feel like you’re surrounded by 7th grade girls. So, when it hits your house I want you to STOP, get the facts, and approach the teacher with an open mind. For example, your email could read something like this:

Dear Miss Teacher,

Billy came home upset because he said nobody would play with him at recess today. When you have a moment, would you let me know what happened? Did HE do something wrong? Is there anything I can do to help this situation? I hate that he feels sad at such a fun time of day.

The last thing you want to do is come out, guns blazing, just to find out your sweet Billy put Susie in a headlock and the class went on strike due to HIS playground violence. {Becky has some great tips on resolving Parent/Teacher Conflicts if you need some further advice.}

IMG_78695. FIND OUT YOUR TEACHER’S FAVORITES. 

Does she love Starbucks? Are Chick-Fil-a nuggets better than her typical Lean Cuisine? Guys, these teachers give their all for your children EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. And news flash, they don’t bring home the paycheck they should. So, grab them a treat every once in a while. Let them know you appreciate all of their hard work.

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