It’s that time of year when back-to-school photos start to take over Facebook and Instagram. And if you’re like me, you’re starting to get a bit anxious about (1) everything you need to get sorted out before the first day and (2) how your children will handle this new change. On Wednesday I’ll have a Back To Preschool post that focuses on everything you need for kids heading back to preschool. As preschool parents we don’t have to worry about school supplies and homework, so I’m going to spend some time focusing on our unique needs!
Today, though, I want to focus on the new relationships we’ll be developing with our children’s teachers. Teachers partner with us helping mold our children into the tiny humans they are today and the adults they will become. They will be there to celebrate their many achievements (and at times correct their misgivings).
The school my children attend offers a back-to-school morning so that the children can meet their teachers and other kids in their class. This is a perfect opportunity for me to ask their teachers a few questions. You might also attend such an event or you might have to wait until open house. Regardless, start communicating with your child’s teacher right off the bat!
6 Questions to Ask Your Child’s New Teacher
1. What’s the best way to communicate with you?
Your child’s teacher might give you more than one way to get in touch with him or her (let’s stick with assuming the teacher’s a woman for simplicity’s sake in this post). Just like you and me, though, there is probably one method that is the BEST way to get a quick response. Ask the teacher which way she would prefer you use to reach her if necessary. You might even want to clarify if she’d prefer if you call or text her. Of course, I personally wouldn’t recommend you overuse this direct communication method. Don’t be that mom that’s texting the teacher at all hours of the day and night.
2. How can I support my child at home?
This is a question you should ask throughout the school year as well. Your teacher will likely appreciate that you understand that consistency is key and you want to be part of the team in helping your child improve academically and behaviorally. For example, when my son’s teachers have informed me of behavior problems I always want to ask how they’re correcting the behaviors. Is it working? If so, I want to do that too and be consistent! If not, I might share what typically works well at home. You’re in this together!
3. How are students monitored during less-structured times, like bathroom activities or while on the playground?
Okay, I know this might be a weird one for you to ask. But you really need to ask this question. I’m putting on my SafeMom hat here. In my work with youth-serving organizations (as I explained here), we most often dealt with incidents of inappropriate sexual behaviors between children. I’ve even seen incidents involving children as young as 3 in unmonitored bathroom stalls. We don’t know what other children have been exposed to whether that’s online or in their home lives. Emphasize that you want your child supervised during bathroom breaks and do not want them sent there unsupervised with a buddy. Of course, schools likely handle this in various ways depending on age, but I always caution against a buddy policy.
Many schools provide training on how abuse occurs in the school environment, and if your school doesn’t – I even challenge you to ask leadership why not. No school is immune from such incidents. Training staff on the importance of supervision is a huge step towards child safety.
4. Is there anything you need for the classroom?
I asked some teacher-friends what they’d like parents to ask them and this was the hands-down favorite question. Whether your kids are at a private preschool or a public high school, your teachers are paying out-of-pocket for educational tools to help your child progress academically and socially (and remember, these are likely under-compensated pockets but I digress … ). One of my friends, Heather, is a high school teacher and confessed that she “gets choked up if a parent even brings a box of tissues at this point.” Don’t forget to help out these teachers! Other ways to help might include hand sanitizer and paper towels. But just ask – they’d love to hear you’re thinking of them!
5. How can I help you?
Similar to asking them about their classroom needs, your teacher might appreciate a few extra hands to help with special projects throughout the year. Just ask.
6. What kind of wine do you like?
One of my teacher-friends posted this as a joke, but she got a few “YES!” responses. So, depending on your school’s rules, this might be a perfect question for you as well. Hey, letting your teacher know you acknowledge she will likely need to drink some wine after long days with these kiddos (and maybe even your’s specifically) can’t hurt your relationship! You might even gain a new friend. 😉
If you’re a teacher, be sure to chime in with questions you wish parents would ask you. And other moms, let me know which questions you enjoy asking teachers.