things teachers wish parents knew
Brace yourself. Sometimes teachers do not like your kids. Sometimes they do not like us. However, since teachers are not there to be paid companions, we find a way to bond. We can’t get anything accomplished unless we can forge some sort of connection. We may come to a different understanding in May than in October. The teacher is a part of a long continuum- not just one year- in the journey to educate the child. One year can make a difference but it does not define everything, at least not in the lower grades. So, if things are rocky, it won’t be forever and if they are great, make the most of it.
Usually by about fourth grade, the teacher is not God Almighty. Kids in primary grades worship the ground their teachers walk on. They want to be close enough to breathe their breath. They repeat everything the teacher says, can do only what the teacher says.
Peer acceptance is bigger than mere adults. Kids will go to great lengths to be recognized by the people they deem popular, and these relationships will stay cemented until they are middle-aged. They will not want to sit at the 25th reunion with the creepy kid they shied away from in first grade. Give it up.
What happens in school, stays in school. Some things can’t be discussed with you. Leave them alone and be happy for what you do get. The school experience is kid domain. A bad day can be just that, bad. Don’t make a federal case out of it right off. See what happens in the next few days, not the second they open their eyes in the morning. They will get over it, and if they don’t, you will hear about it. Step away from the lunch box.
Speaking of which, aim for nutritional balance in the morning and evening meals. At lunch time, catching up on all the bathroom humor and latest recess gossip is the order of the day. Teachers try to create an atmosphere and nurses emphasize the importance of healthy eating and no sharing, but a fruit roll up beats celery like rock beats scissors. Chips are wild.
Bad mouth the teacher in front of your child at your peril. This is not meant as a threat. It will only confuse the child and muddy the relationship both are trying to build for the next ten months. Children have to figure out how to deal with challenging relationships.
Think long and hard about moving the kid out if tensions run high. This will have ramifications neither you nor your child can foresee. It’s a huge deal and the whole school will be talking about the ‘old’ new kid and what Mrs. So and So did to her and your kid, who may have been at that school her whole life, will be the outsider because the other class has already become a community. Do you want that kind of celebrity for your child?
Demand they hand over the paperwork. Withhold dessert if necessary. Want to avoid morning drama like when they ask for the breakfast scraps to ‘help compost for the homeless’? Or how about the endless requests for two dollars to be sent in? Read the notes the teacher sends home as soon as you possibly can. Commit the material to memory and you will be the go-to gal or guy of the neighborhood. “Concert at 6:30, potluck right before, lower grades bring beverages,” could be the message on your home answering machine. You could charge money for the info and finance the all the two dollar hustles.
Keep a supply of shirts in every color, for purple shirt day, spirit day, and capture the flag day as well as a few pieces of poster board and markers handy for the odd triptych that needs to be made an hour before bedtime. Inspiration strikes kids at the last minute and with the proper tools, you can continue watching your favorite show.
When in doubt, write a note. Out late at a Lebanon Little League game and dioramas did not get done? Write a note. Kids watching the eclipse of the moon from atop Mt. Ascutney and a little drowsy? Write a note. Despite being a full professor at Dartmouth, you have no idea what the homework assignment is asking the kid to do? Write a note. The key to this is to not abuse it- teachers do get that things are nutty at times, but going to Wal-Mart is not a legitimate excuse. It may mean that time needs to be set aside to reteach the material and the quickest time for that may well be… recess. Hey, I don’t like it anymore than your kid does- that’s usually lunch time and hanging out later in the classroom means I missed trading my Lean Cuisine for the last Twinkie.