Ten tips for back-to-school from a parent and former Charleston-area educator

A primary primer

10. Set a clear and appropriate bedtime. Are you guilty of letting your child stay up too late in the summer? You’re not alone. Start now, and work your child’s bedtime down incrementally every couple of days until they are back on a school year appropriate routine.

9. Kindergarten parents, don’t hover around the classroom after drop off. Enjoy the moment of walking your child to their first day of “big kid school.” Take lots of pictures, help them get their stuff in the classroom. But once that is complete, you have to let them go. Don’t pace back and forth outside the door or watch through the window. Just take the complimentary tissues from the teachers and know that your child will be well taken care of.

8. Middle school parents, you actually do need to come to a complete stop when dropping off your child. I get it. It’s been a long summer full of tween drama. But, you can’t throw your kid out of the car without coming to a full and complete stop.

7. Don’t overanalyze class rosters. The principals and teachers put a lot of time into making classes that are balanced and take into account many different factors (personalities, academic abilities, special education supports, etc.). Along this note, don’t worry too much if your child doesn’t have any “friends” in their class. It will turn out to be an amazing experience for your child to learn to navigate life outside of their comfort zone and make new friends.

6. Keep an open mind about your child’s teacher. And believe it or not, the soccer field is not the best place to figure out who the “best” teacher is. Often times the teacher that was a great fit for another child, may not be the best fit for your child.

5. Take a minute to admire your child’s classroom. That room did not look like that a couple weeks ago! The teacher put an immense amount of time, energy, and their own money in to making it a warm, welcoming environment in which your child can thrive.

4. Fill out all of the forms and information cards on the first day. You will get what may seem like a mountain of stuff to fill out on the first day of school (emergency card, school handbook, nurse card, etc.) These are extremely important! So, just get it done. Please don’t make your teacher spend the first three weeks of school trying to figure out who can pick Johnny up for the dentist or track down grandpa’s work phone number.

3. Work with your child to set goals for the school year. Goal setting is critical as it instills in children that success is not passive. Learning does not occur simply by showing up to school. There will be obstacles along the way, but achieving their goals takes grit and perseverance.

2. Just buy the dang supplies. The list may be long and not make much sense to you. But there is a reason the teacher asks for 8 folders with brads and in specific colors. She has a system, don’t be the one that messes that up. Side note — Crayola really is 100 times better than Roseart. I don’t know why, it just is. And pre-sharpened pencils only!

1. Soak it up, savor the memories. Whether school starting back has you sad or ready to pop a bottle of champagne, from kindergarten through 12th grade, your child will only have 13 first days of school.

Bonus tip: Reach an agreement with your child’s teacher that you will only believe 50 percent of what your child says happens at school if the teacher only believes 50 percent of what your child says happens at home.

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