By Jen Beaudoin and Caitlin Zammuto
While each item on the the list of school supplies you receive is both appreciated and desperately needed — those aren’t the most important things we need from you. We aren’t talking money or material items, either. We’re talking relationships — our relationship — as parent and educator.
How can we build a strong relationship? How can I be an important member of your village? And how can you be a key part of your child’s school community?
These are the “things” that we really, truly need from you to accomplish that.
We totally get it. Leaving your child with someone you hardly know and trusting them to watch, care for, love, teach and return them home safely is no easy feat.But please trust us. We love what we do. We are not here for the paycheck. We do it because we love children — your children. We want what is best for each individual child and whatever their unique needs might be.
In return, we promise to trust you, too. We promise not to judge you or your methods. You know your children better than anyone, and any input and feedback you have is priceless information.
Tell us about your home life, what you did on the weekend, and what “works” at home! We LOVE to hear about life outside of school. It connects us to you and your child in a way that we often miss out on. The stronger the connection, the stronger the trust.
You are your child’s first teacher. You’re the person they look up to the most. If you want your child to have respect for me, you are the best model to show them how. When you walk into the classroom, let’s both try our best to take the time to make eye contact, greet one another and maybe even chat for a second when possible.
We don’t need to be best friends — but being friendly with each other can go a long way.
We will show the same respect — not just to you, but also to your children. It is our job to model respectful interactions with each and every child and parent who walks through our classroom door. And we take that job very seriously.
Ah — time. There just never seems to be enough of it. We know that mornings can be crazy (for us too!) and just trying to get out the door feels like you’ve already run a marathon (sometimes before you’ve even had your coffee!). BUT—taking the time to slow down when possible could benefit your child in many ways.
We would love it if you could give yourself a couple of extra minutes to try to incorporate, promote or practice some self-help skills in the morning — let them get their shoes on, jacket on, zippers closed. It’s easier and faster for you to do it for them in the short term, but this is a better long-term confidence and independence building strategy.
(And you can sip your coffee while you watch them in action! ?)
Let’s promise to reach out when there’s something we need to talk about. What happens in your child’s life outside of school can impact everything, including: negative or withdrawn behaviors, participation level, friendships, appetite and so on. How children deal with stress is a MAJOR factor in a teacher/child relationship.
Tell me about anything stressful that might have an affect on your child. Maybe you guys are moving, there was a death in the family, or even something seemingly innocuous like a minor change in your child’s schedule. You could even just shoot me a quick email about an emotional morning full of meltdowns and tantrums. It will help me to start problem solving faster and with more direction.
5. An open mind
Feel free to ask me questions if there’s something you need more detail on, or if you don’t agree with a method or subject we’re implementing. I’d love to have an open, respectful conversation and offer a new perspective.
I know it can be hard — but try to understand that we are doing our best to please 20-30 families, and not everyone is going to be happy all the time. We certainly are not trying to make anyone unhappy though, so let’s work together to understand where one another is coming from.
6. A simple thanks
Think of a room full of 20+ 3, 4 or 5 year olds. It is fairly chaotic. It’s full of hungry, sleepy and enthusiastic tiny humans who have big emotions to express — and they often do so by screaming, crying, laughing, hiding — and most likely anything else you can possibly imagine!
That being said, every single piece of artwork created, morning meeting completed, snack thoughtfully made, story read, toy cleaned up, etc. are all amazing feats of teamwork between your child and their teachers.
With every nugget of knowledge your child comes home discussing — they probably learned that nugget from a teacher who just got glue on their favorite shirt, had a crying child in their arms and was wondering when they’d be able to sit down for lunch. Hearing “thank you” from parents is profoundly meaningful and validating for us. Those simple words are appreciated more than you know.
You can also express your gratitude in other ways — not just with words. Offer to come in and read a story, contribute something to the classroom that goes with the curriculum (don’t think expensive — bring in a bag of leaves in the fall!).
We know the start of a school year can not only make the kiddos nervous, but parents as well.
Think of this list as a loose guide — we don’t expect perfect families 365 days of the year.
Bad days happen — both at home and at school. More than anything we just want an environment where your children will succeed, both academically and emotionally.
The best way to ensure this is to have open, honest and respectful communication channels ― between us and with your child.
Let’s be a team. Let’s build each other up, and help each other out. Let’s have an awesome school year!
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