Today I'd like to introduce you to my friend Amy Carroll. Not only is she a speaker for Proverbs 31 Ministries, but she is a professional educator. Amy has spent time on both sides of the school conference table. As a teacher fresh out of college, she struggled with nerves as she met with her students’ parents, but she thinks sitting on the parent side of the table is even harder. Amy is teaching in an elementary classroom this year for the first time in 15 years.
Here's some solid advice from Amy:
As a student, we all looked forward to school with visions of reuniting with friends, buying brand-spanking new school supplies, and sporting our first-day-of-school outfit. As a parent, we’re usually a little nervous about those first days of school and the uncertainty that they bring. There will be another adult spending a large portion of the day with our precious child, and each of us wants to build a positive relationship with our child’s teacher. Here are some suggestions for starting the school year on the right foot.
As School Starts:
· Pray, pray, pray for your child’s teacher. You might consider joining or organizing the Moms in Touch group at your child’s school.
· Attend any “Meet the Teacher” events with your child. This will make your child more comfortable as well as giving you an opportunity to give the teacher your contact information and to offer support from the beginning. Teachers are extremely busy at the beginning of school, though, so make your contact brief.
· Purchase all the requested supplies so that your child starts school with the things needed for success. If your budget allows, most teachers are thrilled to receive some extra supplies for children who cannot afford them.
During the First Week of School:
· Read all the information the teacher sends home about classroom rules and procedures. Take some time to review these with your student to let her know that these expectations will be reinforced at home.
· Some teachers include a worksheet for parents in the beginning-of-school packets that allow parents to give feedback on their child’s strengths, weaknesses and special needs. Make sure to fill these sheets out thoughtfully and restate your intention to support the teacher.
· If you are able to volunteer in the classroom, let the teacher know what your availability is. Working moms, don’t despair! Many teachers also appreciate parents who can help at home with projects such as cutting out bulletin board items. Your presence in the classroom should be to support and not just to scrutinize, so double check your motives.
If Problems Occur:
· Address problems or questions quickly either through a conference, notes or email. Wait to pass judgment, though, until you talk with the teacher. Teachers aren’t perfect, but “folly is bound up in the heart of a child” (Prov. 22:15). Sometimes our precious little ones engage in the “both ends against the middle” power play that pits home against school.
· Because of this, don’t talk about problems with a teacher in front of your child. Although your child must know that you are his advocate, you and the teacher need to provide a united front until there is conflict resolution.
· Make sure to try to work out problems with the teacher first before approaching administrators. Following the chain of command ensures that small problems are solved directly with the teacher without hurt feelings and resentments.
· Make decisions based on the best interest of your child rather than on pure emotion. Since God is the one who loves your child more than anyone, pray about any school decisions that need to be made. As in any area of our lives, the journey needs to be covered in prayer from beginning to the end.
To read more about Amy’s adventures in returning to teaching, visit her blog at www.amycarrollp31.blogspot.com.