August 7, 2013
BACK-TO-SCHOOL: Give your child a fair advantage!
It's that time of year! Colorful Crayola displays offer a cheerful greeting at the entrance of each supermarket and grocery store front. Pencil sharpeners everywhere, hum a steady tune, as pencils with untouched erasers are filed to a point of perfection. New backpacks are well-stocked with supplies, and are lined by the front door, ready to go. Shoe laces are bright, and new shoes sit patiently, waiting to be scuffed. Closets are lined with new clothes, clothes which will soon carry the stains that will tell the stories of your child's 2013-14 school year. Excitement is in the air.
I'm certainly not an expert on the subject of raising children, but I would like to share a few thoughts for you to consider, before you set foot in your child's classroom.
Pretty soon you will be meeting and greeting the teachers who will be working with your children throughout this new school year. As you do this, please remember that your words are a powerful paintbrush. Be mindful of the image that you paint of your child, and their character. You may feel an obligation to share your child's history of academic or behavioral weaknesses with his new teacher, right out of the gate. Unless it is information that absolutely must be shared for the safety of your child, or the safety of others, then use discretion. Give your child a fair chance at making a good first impression. It's a new year, and a new opportunity. If your child had a difficult time last school year, then explain to him that this is a clean slate. Make sure he knows that you are in his corner. If and when issues arise, there will be time for you to find an appropriate way to deal with them at that time. When you speak to their teacher for the first time, be sure to carry a positive tone.
On that note... keep your tone positive, but your words realistic and attainable. Don't storm in and set verbal expectations for your child that will be hard for them to reach or maintain. They may be the smartest kid that you've ever known, and they may have an incredible skill set that is hard for you to keep quiet about. Keep quiet anyway. Maybe they have been the fastest, smartest, sharpest, most talented kid in their class for the past 3 years, give them the space to continue to grow at their own pace! Their teacher will have plenty of time to discover the amazing qualities that your child possesses, all without your help. Let their teacher come to YOU throughout the year and tell you how fabulous your child is at drawing, or reading, or math! You can smile, and say thank you... then go home and call grandma to tell her ALL about it! Spare your child the pressure of feeling like they always have to be "THE BEST."
I'm not suggesting that you be uptight and close-lipped. Have a natural conversation. If your child loves to paint, and the teacher mentions how wonderful the school art program is, then tell her how much your child enjoys art! I'm merely suggesting that you not build your child up in such a way, that that the teacher may build false expectations for them before the school year has even begun. In the same breath, give your child a fighting chance. Even though you may have good intentions, don't divulge every issue that your child has ever confronted, before their teacher has a chance to get to know them and form their own opinions!! I sincerely hope that this is a beneficial bit of encouragement. I'm wishing each of your littles a fabulous school year filled with learning, laughter, and love!,
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