How to Start the School Year Off on the Wrong Foot

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I Was So Unprepared for the Last First Day of Elementary

Turn In Incomplete Paperwork

Solomon says, “The first week is like photocopy heaven. The main office sends home important information, as do the classroom teachers. Parents need to empty the folders and go through each paper. Anything that needs a signature should be signed and returned as soon a possible.” Many schools now handle most of their paperwork online; parents need to be sure to read all emails from the school thoroughly so as not to miss anything.

Approach the Teacher at Pickup or Drop-Off

Teachers do not want to have conversations when you are dropping off your child or at dismissal; they are focusing on getting the students into and out of school safely. Elementary school teacher Jennifer Fotii says, “Even for simple questions, it’s not the right place or time. Parents should call the teacher or, even better, send an email so that the teacher can give their concerns her undivided attention.” Fotii also cautions parents not to ask an overwhelming number of questions right away. She explains, “A lot of information comes home within the first few days of school, and almost everything else is answered on back-to-school night.”

Ask Personal Questions at Back-to-School Night

Speaking of back-to-school night, most schools host these evenings to give parents a broad overview of the grade’s curriculum. It is a chance for parents to inquire about general classwork and expectations. It is not an opportunity to ask about specific questions pertaining to your individual child. If you have a question that does not pertain to the class as a whole, make an appointment with the teacher to talk about your student’s needs.

Get Overly Anxious

New beginnings can be tough for everyone, and parents need to set an example for their kids. Kennedy-Moore says, “Don’t emphasize how difficult this year will be or how worried you are about how your child will manage. If you’re tense and worried about how the school year will go, your child will be too.” Focus on the positives — seeing old friends, making new ones, fun special events that happen in your child’s grade, etc. If you seem excited about the new school year, your child will be too.

Make Too Many Plans After School

Kennedy-Moore says, “The beginning of a new school year is a big deal for kids. There’s a lot of uncertainty: Will my teacher be nice? Will I have a buddy in my new class? Will the work be too hard or too boring?” Better to have time to relax, get organized, and eat a leisurely family meal those first few days than to immediately be running around with after-school activities — especially after the typically more laid-back pace of summer. The same is true for parents. Kids may want to talk about the details of their day or need to run out for additional school supplies, so try to avoid making plans or scheduling mandatory work meetings until your child is settled comfortably into their new routine.

By avoiding these missteps, parents can help their kids to start the new school year positively. Both your children and your children’s teachers will appreciate your efforts to make it a great school year.

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