Ok, mamas. The school year is starting, and that fall buzz is in the air. You’ve got the crayons, backpacks, notebooks, and lunch boxes all in order (or not, if you’re more like me). And you probably can’t wait to meet your child’s teacher to kick off the year.
The teacher is just as eager to meet you and your kiddo! But here’s a little secret from this teacher of 30 years: they also want you to give them some space at the beginning of the school year. I know your first thought might be, “What? They’ve had space all summer! They should be ready for all the things in September!”
Yes, but hear me out. The first month of school is overwhelmingly exhausting for teachers, students, and parents. Everyone needs time and space to adjust to the schedule in their own way. So while that’s happening, here are three ways to give the teacher a little breathing room at the beginning of the school year.
1. Read your emails. Then read them again.
I get it. The beginning of the year is crazy hectic for everyone involved. And if you have multiple children in school or are navigating more than one school, you probably feel overwhelmed by the number of emails and alerts vying for your attention. (ParentSquare, anyone???)
Please take the time to read through everything your child’s teacher sends you. They will likely answer most of your questions in those emails so that you don’t need to reach out to them. When teachers receive emails with questions they’ve already addressed, it is draining, frustrating, and time-consuming.
2. Hold off on sharing everything about your kid.
Unless it’s a genuinely urgent issue, don’t bombard your child’s teacher with all the possible information about your kiddo. Teachers and students deserve some time to get to know each other on their classroom turf. Their relationship will be uniquely theirs and probably doesn’t require much input from you.
That’s not to say that teachers don’t care about everything you know and love about your child. We do! But we also thrive on the chance to learn about each student on our own. Plus, your child deserves the opportunity to find their way in the classroom setting without preconceived ideas in the teacher’s mind.
3. Wait to be invited to volunteer.
For many parents, volunteering in their child’s classroom brings them tremendous joy. And when the school year starts, they are eager to jump in and help.
Snacks? Craft projects? Field trips? Sign. Me. Up
Don’t get me wrong. Just about every teacher under the sun is happy to have willing parent volunteers in the classroom. But, they may not be ready for you the second the school year starts for several reasons:
- They want to set classroom expectations and routines without distractions.
- They want to establish their presence as the “authority” in the classroom. (No, they are not dictators. But this step is necessary for an effective and safe learning environment.)
- The class schedule and roster may still be fluctuating, making it challenging to assign volunteer tasks consistently.
- Some children are not yet ready to share their parents with other students.
- Some children are not yet ready to share their classroom with their parents.
As eager as you are to help and participate in your kiddo’s classroom, be patient and wait for the teacher to say they are ready for volunteers. Most of us communicate this through email and at back-to-school night, so watch for any updates. If you don’t see or hear anything about volunteering after a few weeks, then it makes sense to send the teacher a quick email telling them that you’d love to help and what availability you have.
While you’re waiting, check with your child’s school or district for any background check requirements. You can usually take care of that administrative task right away, even before school starts. This screening can take several weeks to clear, so getting it done as soon as possible means you will be able to volunteer more quickly.
Side note: Classroom volunteering is not everyone’s cup of tea, and that’s ok! Please do not feel obligated or forced into helping if it’s not your comfort zone. Choosing not to volunteer doesn’t reflect on you as a parent at all. I promise!
Remember that you deserve some space, too!
The beginning of the school year brings all kinds of emotions and shifts. While your child and their teacher get the ball rolling, don’t forget to give yourself a breather, too. A little space between parents and children can be a great thing now and then, so go ahead and give yourself a moment! And cheers to another year!