Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Tuesday's Tips and Tricks-- What Your Child's Teacher Wants You to Know about Kindergarten

My how the summer has flown and how surprised am I that it is already time to start getting Emma ready to go back to school.. sigh... Sending my oldest child to Kindergarten was quite a traumatic experience for me. Instead of re-hashing the emotions, if you feel so inclined, you can read about it HERE. But take my word for it, you would have thought that I was sending my oldest off to college. For those of you that are sending your little one off for the first time this year, let me say that we did survive and it was a wonderful year and Emma grew in beautiful ways. Both, in knowledge and in character. Though I'm going to miss my little delight during the days, and I'm certainly not looking forward to the horrible wake times, this year is sure to be less traumatic. One of the things that helped me survive those first days of Kindergarten was having a sister who is a Kindergarten teacher. Having her reassurance that Emma's teacher wanted her to succeed as much as I and having her share tips with me on how to help Emma succeed helped me to approach the situation with confidence. So, I was very excited when Denise very willingly agreed to do a guest post about the things she wishes the parents of her students knew about Kindergarten.. And so without further delay, I'll stop rambling on and let you hear from the expert...

When Dana first asked me to do a guest post about kindergarten for her blog, I asked myself what I would most want my kindergartener’s parents to know BEFORE their students enter my classroom. I decided there are a few things for which I would love parents to prepare both themselves and their little ones. So here goes….. Lessons I would love to give first time kindergarten parents:

First- We teach because we love children. We want your children to do their very best. Kindergarten is the foundation on which your child will build a lifetime of education, so when we tell you that your child needs to do this or that, it is generally because we love them-- just as you punish them and discipline them because you love them, we do the same. So please don’t ever think that a kindergarten teacher has “it in” for your child….your child becomes ours too and that is why we do what we do!

Having said that, I would love to give you some practical things to think about as you get your little one ready to begin their educational journey:

1. Overalls are so cute on young children but have you ever tried to buckle fifteen pairs after a bathroom break and still make it to the lunchroom on time? Please save those for the weekend. Your child’s teacher will really appreciate it.

2. Either teach your child to tie shoes or buy buckles, Velcro or slip-ons. Double knots do not last all day and shoes generally come off at nap time. This is also a time that your child’s teacher will thank you when she is not tying shoes allllll day!

3. Take your little boys to a public restroom before school starts and make sure that they know what a urinal is. Also, make sure that they know that their pants should be pulled all the way up before they approach the restroom door.

4. Practice makes perfect… practice opening chip bags, putting straws in drink boxes, and opening pudding cups. Your student will feel so powerful at lunch and snack.

5. Let your child dress themselves. I know that you feel the need to help them but they can learn how to put on their coat, sweater or jacket. I promise. Again a powerful experience for them!

6. Flip flops! Oh, flip flops! Another clothing item that is best left for the weekend. Even if they can keep them on their feet while walking down the hall in a line, flip flops become very distracting during large group rug time when they easily slip off to become toys or weapons.

7. Your child will be using scissors, pencils, glue, crayons, markers, and paper. It will be beneficial if they have experienced these supplies before entering the classroom. They will thank you for it later when they can cut and color in a straight line.

8. Finally, READ, READ, READ! Read to your child! Read with your child! Read in front of your child! Talk to your child about what they read! Talk to your child about what you read! You are your child’s first teacher! They will treasure what you treasure. Make reading and learning one of those things!

I will close just by saying that I absolutely love, love, love being a kindergarten teacher. I have met very few kindergarten teachers who do not feel the same. When your child walks into our kindergarten classroom for the first time, they become someone else’s child too! For all parents out there, I want to thank you for sharing your children with us. To date, I have one biological child and 72 that I have because God gave me the honor of being the one to help them begin their educational journey. I look forward to each school year as much as my incoming students. I look forward to adding 20 more to my family this year and I hope that each of you will have a wonderful experience this coming year!

Remember that knowledge is the only thing that no one can take from you! If you want to leave your children with a truly worthwhile gift…..give them knowledge!

There are a couple of other items I remember Denise sharing with me through the year. So, I'm going to add those here:

1. If you have a little girl that wears dresses, put shorts under them.. Do I really need to explain further?

2. The overalls, same thing applies to jewelry and hair barrettes. Try to put things on your kids that will stay on them. It interrupts valuable teaching time for the teacher to have to try to keep up with those items.

3. When your child gets in trouble, try to keep in mind that the teacher is trying to train them for the future. And, it is very difficult for a teacher to teach while someone is misbehaving. It is difficult for any parent to hear that their child has done something wrong (I have a lot of experience with this). I'm not saying that there is never a time to stand in your child's defense but, for the most part, if you place blame on the teacher, you're teaching your child to place blame also instead of taking responsibility for their actions. Emma was one of the few kids in her class that got a medal for "star behavior". I feel strongly the reason for that was because she didn't have "star behavior" in preschool and her teacher lovingly disciplined her. Not, because she had it out for her but because she believed in her. I'm so thankful that she saw some things about Emma that as parents, we were too biased to see.

4. Oh and an important one: When you send money to school for different things, ice cream, lunch, bookfair, whatever. The teacher does not have a cash register in her classroom nor the ability to make change. Either have exact change or write a check for the exact amount. Put the money for each individual purpose in individual envelopes with the purpose of the money and any other information that your child's school requires clearly stated on the envelope (name, class number etc).

I know that there are other teachers and parents with experience in this area that sometimes read here. If you have tips that can be added here, please, please, share with us!