School season is upon us and while most parents are rushing to the stores to buy their kids all of the essentials and back to school basics, a lot of parents are forgetting to send their kids to school with the most important tool of all – life skills! This is especially true to those parents who are sending their kids off to school for the very first time. To help you navigate through this important and nerve racking experience, I’ve teamed up with my sister (a kindergarten teacher) to provide you with helpful advice and a bit of an inside scoop on what teachers really wants parents to remember and be aware of before sending their kids to school!
1. Practice, practice, practice!!
So you’ve bought your child a new pair of shoes, a backpack, coat and a lunch bento box only for them to have no clue how to tie, zip, put on or open any of it! Before sending your child back to school with all of their new apparel, take the time to familiarise them with it all. Don’t ever assume that their teacher will have the time to help your child with these day-to-day tasks. This is such a common mistake amongst many parents. Teachers (especially those teaching Kindergarten) likely have roughly 30 other children vying for their attention, asking for help with the same things! Instead of having your child rely on an adult to help them, try to incorporate these lessons into your child’s day to day routine. When you’re at home, try packing their lunches in their new containers so that they can practice opening them with you being present. Before heading out the door to run errands, have your child dress themselves by putting on their shoes and coat without any assistance. Heck, you may even want to try practising basic bathroom etiquette… wiping properly, flushing toilets and washing hands. I know it’s hard to break habits that you’ve been practising for the last three to four years, but the hard reality is that mommy and daddy aren’t going to be there to tie their laces before recess, open their granola bars during snack time or wipe their butts after they’ve used the washroom (gross but true). Whatever you do, don’t send your child to school with something that they can’t open or operate on their own and please (for the love of all things) don’t send your kindergartener to school with lace-up shoes!!!
2. Know, Understand & Follow School Rules & Policies
Every school has set rules, policies and best practices and it’s so important that staff, students and parents abide by the standards that are set by the school board and institution. As a parent, it’s your responsibility to familiarise yourself with the do’s and don’ts of your child’s school. For example, some schools follow a “litrerless lunch” policy that requires students to bring home any and all garbage produced from your childs’ lunch and snacks. If that’s the case, it’s a good idea to educate your child on what to do with their empty yogurt containers, apple cores and all the rest. If your unsure of these rules yourself, contact your school to inquire! Speaking of food, it’s important to note that all schools are nut free but while nuts and peanuts are a common allergy, they’re not the only allergies to be aware of. Staff will notify you of any allergies in the classroom/school and it’s a good idea to ensure that anyone who could be sending a lunch/snack to school with your child is aware of these allergens as well. You’d be surprised how often one parent/guardian is unaware of the rules and inadvertently sends a banned food item to school with a student. Bringing food to school with a known allergen could ultimately risk a persons life, so be smart about it!
3. Label all the things!
If you’re sending Dustin to school with a Toy Story backpack, know that there’s a good chance that Lucas, Will and Mike will have the same exact same one. (*if you noticed the Stranger Things reference, we’re now BFFs*) Surprisingly, this isn’t just an issue in elementary schools, so you may want to sneakily label your 10th graders backpack as well. In all seriousness though, students of all ages are likely to lose, misplace or mix-up their things with another students, so labelling all of the things is beneficial for everyone! Teach your child to look for their name on their belongings to help avoid any potential mix-ups. If you’re uncertain if you should label it, label it anyways! Mittens, shoes, coats, hats, backpacks, waterbottles, agendas… you name it, label it!
4. Update the school & staff with any changed or new information!
A few months back, there was a news story about a child going home from school with a parent who no longer had access to their child. School staff weren’t informed of the changes, knew no different and gave the parent consent to sign the student out. As a member of school staff, this is honestly my worst nightmare! If there are any changes to contact information, custody arrangements or your childs health (including allergies and medication) that could risk your child’s safety, inform their school right away! Also, know and understand that most schools will require proof of these changes. That means any court orders, doctors notes, proof of address and forms of consent are necessary before proceeding with making any changes to your child’s file.
Back to school season is an adjustment for everyone. In time, everyone will learn their new routines and become familiar with policies and procedures, so try not to panic! If you find yourself or your child struggling with the adjustment, consult with your child’s teacher for any advice on how to better assist your child during this transitional period. I hope you found this information helpful and I wish you all good luck during this new school year.