Welcome to my blog series focused on this tricky time of year. It's a time of renewal, of change, of routines and calendars filling up. For some, it's a relief from summertime busy-ness. For others, it can be a time of dread.
I'd like to share some tips I have learned with you, both as a parent educator and as an elementary school teacher of 10 years. In this first post, I will address the single most important thing you can do as parents of a school-aged child. It's not what backpack or school supplies to buy, or how to set up playdates with new school friends...it's playing matchmaker. Let me explain.
Studies have indicated that a major predictor of academic success (and reported rates of students ENJOYING school) is whether the student likes their teacher and vice versa. But we don't need a study to tell us this; it's something every parent inherently knows. The first question we ask our school-aged children is, “Do you like your teacher? Is s/he nice?” We KNOW how important this is, yet often do little to facilitate this budding relationship.
So, how do we play matchmaker with a teacher and our child?
Listen closely to your child and find SOMETHING that they like about their teacher and make an effort to mention it to said teacher, “Hi Mr. Ramone! Isabelle was just telling me about the last book you read aloud and how silly all the characters voices were. She really enjoys listening to you read.” This has planted a seed in the teacher’s mind that they are likeable, and doing a great job at something in their profession. This is spontaneous recognition and goes a looooooooong to workplace satisfaction. And nobody wants a cranky teacher.
Next, repeat this with your child, as often as you can. “Isabelle! Do you know that Mr. Ramone just called me to tell me how helpful you were during recess??? He said he couldn’t have gotten craft time organized without you!” Your child will be thrilled to hear that they were noticed, and that their actions made an impact. Students can often feel forgotten about in a busy classroom. It sometimes falls to parents to recognize how awesome their child is, in AND out of the classroom.
Having laid this groundwork, you have planted the seeds for a respectful and balanced relationship between teacher and student. Both will want to go out of their way to help one another, and both will have more patience during rougher waters.
Looking for more info on this? Check out Dr. Gordon Neufeld. He has a ton of resources about maintaining attachment during the school years. If you want more support, please contact me for some parent coaching assistance.
Watch out for my next post in this series.