Parenting in Elementary School

In elementary school, your child’s teacher both instructs and takes care of your child during the day.  Elementary school teachers bond with their students and provide personal care and nurturance, especially in the primary grades.

The teacher wants your child to be safe and comfortable in any situation that arises at school.  That includes bathroom accidents, getting sick at school, and skinned knees or a broken arm on the playground.  Sometimes school lets out early because of weather or a power failure.  So it’s extremely important that the teacher knows who to call (primary and back-up), all the contact information for those on the list (home, cell, and work numbers), and who is allowed to pick your child up from school.

If there is a messy custody issue or legal situation going on, the school must have the court orders on file to protect your child.  And if your contact information changes during the school year, let your child’s teacher know right away.  The teacher has to be able to get in touch with you or another family member at any time.

Teachers in the primary grades often ask parents to bring a change of clothes to school. Young children often have bathroom accidents or get muddy on the playground, so make sure to keep a clean set of extra clothes at school for your child.  If he has to change at school, having his own clothes will make an embarrassing situation a little more comfortable.

Many parents have complicated lives, so their children cannot go home the same way every day.  Children may even go to different places after school on different days.  This can be very difficult for teachers to keep up with and it is very stressful for children.  It’s especially difficult if parents routinely call at the last minute to make changes.  Every year, mistakes are made and children are sent to the wrong place.  Scary for everyone!  It is very helpful for everyone if parents establish a schedule that is the same from week to week.  Then the teacher and the child can get into a routine.  If this is impossible for you, consider enrolling your child in an after-school program.

The teachers (and the other parents) really appreciate it when 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!  Figure out a way to handle it when your child is sick so everyone else can stay well.  And if the teacher calls you to come pick up a sick child, come as soon as you can.  Your child needs you.

Elementary school children spend the day moving around, sitting in desks, sitting on the floor, eating snacks and meals, and playing outside.  They go to P.E. and art in their regular clothes.  It’s important for your child to come to school dressed appropriately for the weather and for the activities at school.  It’s hard to participate in P.E. in flipflops!

If your child has a medical condition that requires school involvement, make sure that the teacher has up-to-date information, a supply of medication, and a written plan.  If your child wears glasses or hearing aids, make sure her “eyes” and “ears” accompany her to school each and every day.  Children who can’t see or hear properly are missing out at school.

Here’s a checklist:

  1. Updated, complete contact information for everyone who is allowed to pick up your child.
  2. Court orders and custody agreements on file at school, if applicable.
  3. For primary grades, a set of clean clothes at school in case of accidents.
  4. Regular schedule for after-school care.
  5. Keep sick children home.
  6. Appropriate clothes for school activities.
  7. Medical supplies and information up-to-date.
  8. Glasses and hearing aids at school, in working order, every day.

Parents and teachers have to work together to keep children safe and sound at school.

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