4 WAYS TO CONNECT WITH YOUR KID’S TEACHER
Posted by Natalie Kitchen
Do you remember your first grade teacher? I loved mine. I remember how Ms. Parker erased the board from left to right every day and then wrote the new date in the top right hand corner. I also remember how she showed me how to use a ruler because I was sick on the day she taught everyone else. She knelt near my desk and she helped me measure my arm and my folder and my snack.
Now that our oldest is in school, I’m beginning to understand the crazy reality of widening his circle. I know his teachers will spend many of the quality hours of his week guiding and molding him, so I want our partnership with those teachers to be strong.
And because I’ve been a teacher longer than I’ve been a parent, I’m clinging to a few things I hope to remember now that I’m on the other side of the playground fence.
1 – MAKE IT PERSONAL
I know the hardest time to get to know a teacher is when my kid needs help or is in trouble. I want to make it a point to befriend his teachers as soon as possible. Ask them questions about their classroom and their life. Connect with them however I can and as early as I can. Show them that I am interested in them and what they do to love and serve my child every day. That way, when there’s a bump in the road, my relationship is strong enough for honesty and compassion on both sides.
2 – MODEL RESPECT
As our kids grow in their understanding of authority, I know they’ll look to us to learn how to respond when they’re faced with conflict. I feel our disrespect of our child’s teachers will breed their future disrespect of us and other authorities in their life. I want to encourage and model respect, and help them learn from the decisions their teachers make, good and bad.
3 – GIVE
I remember being so touched that a mom randomly brought me new Expo markers that I called her at home to thank her. I want to give my time. My enthusiasm. My old magazines. It doesn’t matter. I know I want to show up and show my kid’s teachers I’m willing to support their every-day, super-tough work.
4 – PRAY
I think I realized how much I like praying on the first day I watched that school bus drive away from our street. Talking to God about my kids’ day is a great way to relieve a lot of anxiety about the things I can’t control . . . and a great way to thank Him for the inevitable and wonderful ways their circles are widening.
What other ways would you add to our list? Let us know in the comments below!
About the Author:
Natalie Kitchen is on the multi-campus preschool team at North Point Ministries, where she serves to equip six area campuses and a network of strategic partners with training and resources. Her love for learning and curriculum is rooted in her experience as a middle and high school classroom teacher. She is married to Britt Kitchen and they have three children: Nolan, Ellie and Ben.
4 TIPS TO START OFF THE SCHOOL YEAR
Posted by Sarah Anderson
Last year, when my oldest started Kindergarten, I learned I had a sort of spilt-personality. It turns out there’s a school year version of myself and a non-school year version. And since parenting and school was a new thing for me, let’s say, the school year version of me wasn’t the best version of myself.
At the time, I was just trying to keep this school ship running and didn’t realize how unpleasant I was. I was getting lunches made, getting people out of bed, getting backpacks ready to go, and getting class snacks sent in—which, incidentally, I did not manage to stay on top of and completely forgot to send snacks on the first morning of my assigned week.
Basically, when it came time for school to start, with very little expectation or understanding, I turned into someone I’m pretty sure the people around me didn’t like that much—someone I didn’t even like all that much.
And then this summer came, and it was bliss. We could sleep in longer, go on vacation, watch movies past bedtime, head to the pool so many nights after dinner that we started to sweat chlorine, get ice cream for no reason, become regulars at the library devouring the books we filled our tote bag with. In other words, we could breathe a little easier because our structure was looser and so were the demands on our time.
And now, here we are, on the brink of school starting again. And I’m not crazy about it. I hate waking up early, making lunches and having to act like I’m in a good mood when I wake up my kids. I hate having to get on them about homework and early bedtimes. I hate the life maintenance that seems to over take our lives back in the routine. But since it’s inevitable, I’m trying to use these next couple of weeks to try and figure out what I can do to make re-entry into the real world better.
Last year, I learned the hard way that this season of school doesn’t exactly come naturally to me. So this year, it’s up to me to go into it with eyes wide open and determine how to make my school year self not be such a stressed-out jerk to everyone who encounters me. Maybe you too could use the tips I’m compiling for myself.
1. FIGURE OUT YOUR MOST STRESSED OUT TIME OF THE DAY, AND SIMPLIFY
Maybe that’s the mornings—so, make lunches, pack snacks, and assemble homework the night before.
Maybe it’s bedtime—so get the “have to’s” done earlier. Homework, as soon as they get home. Reading, before dinner.
2. FIND A WAY TO CONNECT
At the start of the year, it’s draining on kids to get accustomed to a new teacher, a new routine, who to sit with at lunch, and who to ride the bus home with. They need some normalcy and a sense that life has some consistency. So make an effort to create some intentional time to connect with your kids—one-on-one. Be curious and ask questions like: “What’s the best part of the new year so far? What’s been the most frustrating thing? Is there something you wish was different? What would make tomorrow even better than today?” Be especially intentional to spend unique time with each child. This is the space to make sure the message of, “I love you, I’m paying attention to you, and I want the best start of the year as possible for you” is being communicated.
3. PLAN YOUR BREAKS
In those early weeks of school, the stretch of the school year ahead feels endless. But strategically placed throughout the school calendar are the little reprieves. These few days off here and there are like our Promised Land. Treat those days with intention. You don’t have to go skiing over Winter Break, or take a Disney Cruise over Spring Break to make a break count. Make plans to simply enjoy your kids on those days of less structure.
4. GO HEAVY ON GRACE
Change is hard on everyone. For both parents and kids. But we can choose to show a lot of compassion to our kids and ourselves as we work at creating a new normal. No one is doing it perfectly. No one’s morning is seamless. No one is void of emotion or anxiety heading into the start of a new year. So go easy on yourself and the people around you.
Last year, as the school year started for us for the first time, I became profoundly aware of time. Of how fast it all goes. And for that, I was grateful. For as hard as the start of school can be, for as much change it may require of us, for as much as it keeps us on our toes, it is a built-in reminder that our time with our kids is limited. So make it count. Even amid the homework, and school lunches and early rising. Make it count.
About the Author:
Sarah Anderson is a writer and communicator who has been involved in ministry since 2003. She is a lead writer and content creator for Orange's XP3 High School curriculum. Sarah lives in Roswell, Georgia, and is a big fan of her husband, Rodney, her two boys, Asher and Pace, and, in her weaker moments, McDonald's French fries. Read more from Sarah on her blog, www.sarahbanderson.com.