By Rachel C Scott
7th Grade Teacher at Millennium Middle School in Tamarac FL
Okay Moms and Dads, the countdown has officially begun! School re-opens in about a month, unbelievable, right?
So here’s the deal. As a teacher I feel compelled to let you know what it really takes to start this upcoming school year off right. Whether your kids are in elementary, middle or high school, there are a few things you may benefit from knowing and practicing. No doubt, you may already know and do many of these, but a refresher never hurt anyone, right?
BACK TO SCHOOL FOR MOM AND DAD: TIPS TO HOLD TO ON WHAT’S LEFT OF YOUR SANITY!
1. Attend your child’s school Open House. Open houses are designed with the parent in mind. The Principal, teachers and school administrators plan and prepare tons of information (and maybe even some fun activities) especially for you. We want to have a good relationship with you and we really look forward to meeting you at events like these. Make this a priority. If your work schedule does not permit you to attend, ask a another adult member of your family or community to represent you there and gather information for you. It seems trite, but TRUST ME, your presence at Open House is a BIG DEAL!
2. Introduce yourself to your child’s Principal, grade level administrator, guidance counselor and teachers, over the phone or via email, early in the year. This is vital to maintaining a good rapport with your child’s school. Give everyone a face to remember you by! By initiating this level of relationship, you ensure that you have an advocate if (or when) issues arise in the year.
3. Learn the system for recording grades and attendance at your child’s school and stay on top of his/her behavior and and academic progress. Most schools have pamphlets or websites that will guide you with obtaining and reviewing your child’s records. Take advantage! Get familiar with checking grades, overseeing attendance records, and viewing score reports for standardized tests. “I don’t know how,” is a poor excuse! Just think how you responded the last time your kid said that!
4. Be willing to put in at least as much effort into succeeding in school as you expect from your child. This is a big one. We know you’re working (sometimes multiple jobs). We know you have other children. (Most teachers go home to a spouse and children too, and many of us have second jobs). We know you’re busy. Busyness does not negate the necessity of your involvement as the parent. Remember your child takes his/her cue from you. If you don’t make his or her education a priority and demonstrate that with active, consistent involvement, neither will your child.
5. Learn to be an advocate for your child. Speak up when he or she feels mistreated or under-served at school. This is by no means a license to be a nuisance or to stomp in to the school and create a scene. Remember, you’re only visiting, your child goes back everyday! However, if your child expresses a legitimate concern about a grade, an assignment or an interaction with a peer or an adult, follow up!
6. Don’t expect the school to have more control over your child and his/her behavior than you do. Manners at home carry abroad. If your child demonstrates unruly or disrespectful behavior at home (even once), and you don’t consistently follow up with appropriate consequences, then you really shouldn’t be surprised when the school calls you for misconduct issues. If you’re not sure what to do to maintain consistency in the home, contact the school’s guidance office, or family counseling office and ask!
7. Have some fun this year! School doesn’t have to be tedious and dull. Encourage your child’s involvement in activities or clubs. Show up to his or games games and events! Doing things together outside of school will enrich his/her experiences in school. TRUST ME, their report cards will thank you!
8. Most important, remember that education professionals are your allies! We want your child to achieve greatness, we really do! Partner with us, it’s totally worth it!!! Here’s to a remarkable year!
Always a pleasure,
Rachel C Scott is a 7th Grade Teacher at Millennium Middle School and writer of the blog Mrs Scott’s Class where she is a life science teacher. When she’s not teaching, she’s either writing/tweeting, singing, spending time with her family or eating pizza.