It’s almost time to go back to school! What does the elementary school staff really want from you and your family?
The school staff really wants your child to be safe and secure in any situation that arises. In elementary school, that includes bathroom accidents, getting sick at school, and skinning knees or breaking an arm on the playground. Sometimes school lets out early because of weather or a power failure, and children are worried about getting home. Many children have medical issues that might have to be addressed during the school day. And sometimes elementary school children just get upset about something that happens at school.
It’s extremely important that the teacher knows exactly who to call in an emergency and the names of everyone who is allowed to pick up your child from school. If there is a messy custody issue going on, the school cannot protect your child unless the court orders are on file. And if your contact information changes during the school year, let your child’s teacher know right away. Emergencies happen every day, and children get very upset when parents cannot be reached.
Teachers in the primary grades often ask parents to bring a change of clothes to school because little ones have bathroom accidents, spill food and drinks, and get muddy on the playground.
And while we’re on the topic of clothing, elementary school teachers really appreciate it when parents send children to school in clothing that is appropriate to the weather, comfortable, and appropriate for play at recess and P.E. This includes shoes! It’s hard to participate in P.E. or play with friends on the playground in flip-flops or heels. And remember that your child should be able to independently handle their own clothes in the bathroom. This means that if your child cannot handle buttons or zippers, don’t send them to school in clothes that have to be buttoned or zipped.
Lunch time in elementary school is usually 30 minutes long, and the teachers eat their own lunch while supervising their class in the cafeteria. If children come to school with a lunch box, a thermos, and/or packaged food that they can’t open independently, it makes it very difficult to move the class in and out of the cafeteria on time. And if children come to school with food they won’t eat, it can make for a hungry, cranky afternoon.
Many parents have complicated lives and the plans for after school transportation and child care can change from day to day. Children feel most secure in a predictable environment, which means they need to know what’s going to happen every day. It’s especially difficult for teachers and children when parents routinely call at the last minute to make changes. Every year mistakes are made and children are sent to the wrong place or put on the wrong bus. That’s scary for everyone! If a routine plan is impossible for you, consider enrolling your child in an after-school program that can provide safe, consistent after-school child care.
The teachers (and the other parents) really appreciate it if you keep your children home when they are sick. I know it can be a real challenge to find child care or take a day off work, but sick children do not learn. What sick children do is spread germs all over the classroom! Make a plan for when your child is sick so everyone else can stay well.
Let’s sum up:
- Give the teacher detailed, complete information on how to contact you or another family member and who has permission to pick up your child. Keep this information updated through out the year.
- If you have legal custody papers, make sure the school has a copy on file in the office.
- Keep a set of clean clothes at school if requested by the teacher.
- Send your child to school in clothes and shoes that allow him to participate fully in all school activities. Make sure that your child can independently handle his own clothing.
- Send your child to school with a lunch that she will eat, packaged in a way that she can handle independently.
- Figure out a safe, reliable, consistent system for after-school care.
- Keep sick children home from school.
It’s going to be a great school year!