Emails, phone calls and the dreaded supply lists! Going back to school can be just as stressful for parents as it is for their children. For the next ten months, parents will deal with forcing their kids to study, helping them do homework, dealing with emotional meltdowns, and wondering if it is easier to just send them off to boarding school. As teachers are sitting in professional development, some parents may be wondering, “what can I do to make sure that my child has a great school year”?
Here are a few tips from a school counselor perspective:
1. Stay Involved
Orientation and parent/teacher conferences are two examples of the many ways that schools try to keep parents involved. Pay attention the school calendar. Maybe even put a printed copy on your refrigerator. Plan to attend different events in advance so that your presence can not only be known but appreciated around the school. Kids love to see you at school.
2. Build Your Professional Circle
Everyone in your child’s school wants the same thing as you, that’s the success of your child. Become familiar with these people. The principal, the teacher, and the school counselor or three of the major school employees who you should familiarize yourself with. The principal can keep you informed on the major events that are happening in the school that will affect your child. The teacher will help you to better understand where your child is academically, and the counselor can help you to become aware of any emotional or social struggles that your child is experiencing. Together, you all can be the superhero team that your child needs to conquer the academic year.
3. Know Your Son/Daughter’s Academic and Social Strengths and Weaknesses
I can’t do math. I struggled with it throughout my entire school career. I’m not ashamed to say that I still count with my fingers. Don’t even get me started on how difficult it is to calculate the tip at a restaurant. Sometimes parents have the expectation that their child will be the top of the class, that they will get all A’s and be the most popular kid in the class. That’s not always the reality. Curricula today are not the same as they were when we were in school. Students are learning things in ways that we aren’t familiar with. Their social circles and techniques for making friends are centered around social media, something that many of us still struggle to understand. Life in school can be hard. Meet them where they are but don’t be afraid to get them the extra help that they may need academically or socially.
4. Be A Cheerleader
As a 31 year old, I still appreciate the compliments of my parents. I vividly remember moments in school when my they expressed how proud they were of me. That appreciation became my drive to continue to do well. Children love to impress their parents. I STILL enjoy doing it. Give them the encouragement that they need to succeed. Show interest in what they have accomplished. Keep that macaroni art on the fridge for everyone to see! Never let them forget how proud you are of their hard work.
5. Remember That The Teacher Is Not The Enemy
Parents are usually very quick to defend their children. Don’t get me wrong, this is a good thing. But the defense can sometimes become an offense to the teacher. A blame game ensues and eventually the thought ruminates that the teacher just doesn’t like your child. Remember, that they are with your child more waking hours during the day than you are. There are also many other children, personalities, and influences in the classroom. This can cause your child to “act out of character” sometimes and this may become of notice to the teacher. Listen to what they have to say, talk to your child, and together the three of you can discuss some changes. I promise you, teachers don’t get into this field to dislike their students.
Follow these simple tips and watch what we think will be a good school year turn into a great one!