Sneakers and Sippy Cups

Term Two Teacher Tips

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It’s a big deal when your child goes to school – no matter whether it’s their very first day or they’ve been going for years. Every day at school matters. Why? Because school is full of new things. It’s meant to be that way. Sure, your son or daughter might come home and, when asked what they did at school, may reply, “Nothing.”

But what they might mean is, “Well, we did Maths and Science and then had double Art. But at recess I saw two older kids picking on Brett from next door and I didn’t know what to do. So I didn’t do anything. And now I feel ashamed and sad and angry. But I don’t know what to do about it. How can I make it right?”

And so the complexities that are school life begin.

School is not easy. But it doesn’t have to be hard either. What matters most is how we, as parents, react to things, because this sets an example to our children about how they should react. If we make every single mishap or challenge into a major drama, well, guess what? Your child will soon be doing the same thing. It’s important to role model how you would like your child to behave and respond to situations. Teach them to solve problems themselves, but ensure they know you are there to support and guide them. Make sure your child experiences failure and understands that this is the ABSOLUTE BEST way to learn.

When you think of school, what comes to mind? Reading, writing, maths, sports day, assemblies, fundraisers, parent-teacher nights, NAPLAN, homework, projects, carnivals, camps, reports…..

What about the other intricacies of schooling? The things that make school life fun, challenging and memorable. Things like friendship, broken arms, success, embarrassing moments, periods, first love, failure, bullying and happiness.

How do you support your child through all of these moments?

Your child may not be as involved in music or sport or debating as you would like. Your child may have an allergic reaction to homework, mathematics and reading. Your child may have a talent for Art that you had no idea about. Your child might be constantly helping and caring for others. How do you support your child and help nurture their talents or interests? (I say talent or interest because I was quite interested in photography when I was at school but I had ZERO talent! Thankfully I had great parents who supported me and eventually, as my interest for photography waned, I worked out for myself that perhaps my talents lay elsewhere!)

So how can we, as parents, support our children without being too intrusive, over-protective or anxious? The question we need to ask as parents is, “What do we want for our children?” Do we want them to learn how to work hard? Do we want them to learn how to overcome obstacles? Do we want them to experience the true feeling of success through determination and persistence? Do we want them to become independent, lifelong learners with an ability to trust their instincts and have pride in themselves? Do we want our children to be happy- and what does “happy” really mean? Of course, for each family the answers will be slightly different. But there are lots of ways you can help your child have a successful schooling life.

Talk to your child’s teacher. Tell them what your child’s “spark” is. Tell them if your son or daughter is having problems at home or in the schoolyard. Teachers don’t see everything, they appreciate your help. Keep the lines of communication open and respectful. If your child is being bullied, the answer is not to bully the teacher. Along your family’s educational journey, your child will have AMAZING, LIFE CHANGING teachers, but they might also have a couple of teachers along the way that they don’t connect with at all. How will you react when this happens?

Teachers are passionate people. I’ve been fortunate to work with many teachers who inspire their students and colleagues every single day. They work long hours planning activities that will engage and educate their pupils. They pore over test results, because a child’s failure is a reflection on their teacher. How could they have taught the student better? How could they improve on their instruction? Teachers get nervous and excited at the start of the year, just as their students do. They lose sleep over a child whose parents are divorcing, vowing to make sure they are nurtured as best they can be. They tuck their own kids into bed then begin the endless task of answering parent emails, upskilling through webinars and marking work. Teachers are passionate. But they also need parent support.

Teachers role model appropriate behaviours to help your children with persistence and resilience. They foster kindness, empathy and respect, and they hope that the same values are being nurtured within the family home. Teachers know that if parents and teachers work together as a team, then, when challenges occur, children will have the skills (and support) to overcome them.

There’s a reason why teachers say things like, “My kids are at PE and I just saw them doing the best dance routine!” or “My kids were so amazing during our Science experiment today!” or “My kids behaved beautifully during assembly, I was so proud of them.” They say things like that because they care about your children, and they form a strong bond with them.

Ultimately, teachers want the same for your kids as you do. Happy, healthy children who have a passion for learning. Working together with and respecting your child’s teacher and school will go a long way to ensuring your child enjoys their time at school.

If you get a chance, say thankyou to your child’s teacher. Or, if you can’t see them in person, flick them an email to say thanks. When they log on after putting their own children to bed, it’ll make their year to read your note of thanks.

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Emma has taught at schools around metro and regional South Australia, and currently teaches Year 4. She has two children and two cats, Milo and Otis. Her favourite things to do are travel the SA countryside, bake with and for her family, and lie in bed with a book (which happens far less than she'd like it to!).

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