10 Things Your Child’s Teacher Wants You to Know

Happy first day of school to all of our Greeley-Evans students and teachers, and happy first day to all of the parents who have a little extra peace and quiet at home this morning. The beginning of the school year brings sharp crayons, fresh haircuts and new teachers for your child.

As a former elementary teacher myself, I can speak from experience when I say the relationship between the parent and teacher is highly important. Here is a list of 10 things which I wanted my students’ parents to know at the beginning of the school year in order for all of us to have the best experience possible.

  1. Make it a Team Approach: Try to see yourself on the same team with your child’s teacher. The two of you both want the very best for your child, and working together will get you much farther than working alone.
  2. Your Kindness Goes a Long Way: The beginning of the school year is absolutely chaotic and stressful for teachers, and a little thank you means so much. A short note, a quick email or even just saying thank you and acknowledging the teacher’s hard work means so much.
  3. Help Teach Your Child Independence: When it comes to walking your child into the classroom each morning, do your best to let your child enter alone after the first week. Your child needs to learn how to hang up his or her backpack and coat, put away a lunchbox or move a lunch count and get to his or her desk independently. While your presence is always welcome in the classroom, consistently doing simple tasks for your child hinders him or her from gaining the independence and confidence that comes with responsibility.
  4. Give Some Grace: If the teacher misspells your child’s name on their desk or overlooks a note from home, bring the mistake to the teacher’s attention with kindness. Teachers are human, too, and mistakes will happen. A little grace will go a long way in building a positive relationship and the team feeling which will make the year successful for everyone.
  5. Communicate: If something major is going on in your child’s home life, let the teacher know as soon as possible. Sometimes a new baby or a deployed parent or a health issue may impact your child’s behavior in the classroom, and the teacher can watch for or prevent problems that may occur as a result. Because the teacher is with your child 7-8 hours every day, he or she may notice subtle changes and can keep you in the loop about what is going on in the classroom.
  6. Be Involved: Whether it be as simple as sending in a veggie tray to the Christmas party once a year or volunteering weekly to make copies and help in the classroom, do what you can to show your support of your child’s education. Always make it to the scheduled conferences (even if it means rescheduling a few times), and read the newsletters and information the teacher sends home.  
  7. Let Your Child Learn the Hard Way: Sometimes a child needs to forget his or her homework, lunch or assignment and suffer the consequence of their irresponsibility. Help your child out the first time or two, and then let them learn that actions have consequences. Having to buy lunch in the cafeteria, losing a privilege or getting a lower grade won’t be the end of the world, and your child will be more likely to remember to be responsible in the future. Your child’s teacher won’t think you’re a bad parent if you don’t come to the rescue every single time your child calls home with a request for a forgotten item, and your child will thank you in the future for helping them to learn responsibility.
  8. Email When Appropriate: Because your child’s teacher is busy from 8:00 am until 4:00 pm, email is an incredibly convenient way to communicate. It gives the teacher the flexibility to read your message during lunch or when there are five minutes of downtime during the day, and it is much simpler than listening to a phone message when students are in the room.  Allow the teacher 24 hours to reply. If the information you need to relay is too urgent to wait for 24 hours and you know the teacher is slow to respond to email, a quick phone call or note is a better option.
  9. Skip the Email when Conflict Arises: Even though email is convenient, remember it lacks the tone of voice and body language which can soften spoken words. Because of this, always choose a phone call or to schedule a face-to-face meeting to avoid misinterpretation whenever a sensitive issue needs to be discussed.
  10. Deal with Conflict Directly: If you and your child’s teacher have a team approach and are supporting one another, hopefully there won’t be any conflict during the school year. If a problem does arise, please go to the teacher first and try to find a solution before involving administration. Misunderstandings will happen, and it feels like a violation of the parent-teacher relationship when a parent goes directly to the principal before allowing the teacher the opportunity to correct a problem.

May you have a fabulous relationship with all of the teachers in your life this year. We wish all of our parents, students and school staff members a successful 2014-2015 school year!

Greeley Moms, parents and teachers, what would you add to the list?

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Social Media Manners: Stay Classy!

Bad manners seem to be running rampant on Facebook and social media lately. From complaining about friends and family in status updates to rude comments to posting pictures without permission, a lack of tactfulness seems to be more of the rule than the exception.

Since becoming a mom, I have realized I need to model the behavior I want my girls to have one day. My hope is my daughters will behave like ladies no matter where they are, be it in public or online, because having good manners will never go out of style.

This story about a mom whose photo was unknowingly taken while she was discreetly nursing her 6-month-old baby at a restaurant last week (http://blogs.babycenter.com/mom_stories/breastfeeeding-in-public-photo-06162014-privacy-rights-laws/?scid=fb_wallPost) is a great example of the wild situations which bad behavior on social media can create. The mom’s photo was posted on Facebook without her permission, and she unwillingly became the center of a huge firestorm around breastfeeding in public. If the photo taker had a few manners and a little sympathy, this unfortunate situation could have been prevented.

After finding some inspiration from this great article about Facebook etiquette (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/laura-m-brown/facebook-etiquette_b_5268789.html), here are my tips for acting classy online.

Think Before You Type: Whether it be a ranting status update or an angry comment, give yourself some time to cool off before you type something you’ll regret. Everything on Facebook is stored in their servers indefinitely, so make sure your words don’t come back to haunt you one day. Have a trusted friend or a spouse weigh in before you reply to help you gain some perspective.

Be Polite: If you are tempted to type something which you wouldn’t say to someone in person, this is a great sign that you shouldn’t put the nasty words on social media. It is incredibly rude to hide behind a computer screen or an iPhone and say something ugly to someone which you would never say to his or her face. Your friends and family are reading your typed words, and just because they aren’t spoken doesn’t make them any less hurtful, offensive or real.

Ask First: Before you tag an unflattering picture of your junior high bestie, a cute photo of a friend’s new baby or a snapshot from a wild party, get permission. Someone may not want the picture broadcast to their entire friends list or their employer, especially if it shows them in an unprofessional setting. Sometimes new parents want to be the first ones to share a picture of their baby or would rather you not post a picture of their child, so always ask permission to be on the safe side.

Skip the Drama: If you have a big blow out with a close friend, resist the urge to blast them on social media. Even a vague status update such as, “I really can’t believe some people,” can lead friends and family to question what happened and may lead the involved parties feeling betrayed. Everyone has fights and arguments, but it will be much harder to make amends if you publicly shared your unhappiness. The same goes for your spouse. Keep your arguments and dirty laundry private.

You Can’t Reason with Crazy: One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever received is to leave “crazy” alone. If someone is passionately responding to something which you’ve shared or typed, it’s ok to let it be. Your friends will see the situation for what it is without you getting into a back and forth reply situation which could likely have no ending. There are people in this world who insist on having the last word no matter how hard you try to remedy the situation or find a solution, and it’s not worth your energy to continue to argue with them. Choose the high road, and accept that you cannot reason with crazy.

When in Doubt, Think About Your Kids: A great filter to use in social media is to think about how you would want your child to respond in the same situation. If your daughter was in your shoes and had a tacky comment written on her status update, how would you suggest she handle it? In all actuality, we are setting an example of manners and appropriate online behavior for our children, so it’s a great way to teach or prepare to teach our kids.

Sympathize: Remember you are not alone in the Facebook world by a long shot, and that anonymous photo which you snap to express your disgust or shock (like the one of the mom breast feeding) are not as anonymous as you might think. The same goes for the authors of an article or blog post which you simply hate. Everyone is someone’s child, and all of your interactions on social media need to keep this in mind.

Keep it PG: This may make me sound old-fashioned, but I’d rather not see my newsfeed filled with obscene language and dirty jokes. If you must share something inappropriate, use messenger, email or the “share only with” setting. This also protects you in the long run with potential employers and others who you will interact with in a professional setting.

Have Grace: We are all going to make social media blunders, and having grace and forgiveness with others is the only way to expect them to have grace and forgiveness towards us one day. We are learning, human and imperfect, and we live in an imperfect world. Social media is simply a reflection of that.

While I’m not sure we can make much of a difference in the overall climate on social media, I know we can each exercise control over our personal actions online. And there is always the “unfollow” button for those repeat offenders who fill up our newsfeeds. Rise above, friends, and stay classy!

Greeley moms, what other social media manners do you want to teach your kids?

Open Ocean Sailing With Young Children: What Do You Think?

Would you cross the Pacific with young children in tow? Were these parents living the dream or putting their children in unnecessary danger? Here is this week’s blog post for the Greeley Moms–thanks for reading and sharing if you choose! 

http://www.greeleytribune.com/news/feature3/10970392-113/parents-boat-diapers-family

 

The WRONG Way to Sell Your Kids’ Toys

Dear Children,

Should you need therapy for the event described below, I apologize deeply.  I will happily pay for the first five sessions with a therapist as I feel fully responsible for the events which transpired.  Should you require more than five sessions, however, blame your father and ask him for the additional money.

Love,

Your Very Apologetic Mother

I learned the hard way, or rather, my kids learned the hard way, how NOT to sell their old toys.

It was back in December, and Christmas was quickly approaching.  In an effort to clear our house from the kid gear which seemed to be multiplying, I decided to sell a few toys.

Normal and harmless, right?

I picked out this large and annoying musical jungle toy with singing monkeys and loud plastic balls which took up way too much floor space and wasn’t played with very often.  It quickly sold after I posted it online, and I arranged for the buyer to pick it up at our house the following morning.

(This was my first mistake.  I should have sneakily moved it out of their sight when they weren’t playing with it, stuck it in the back of one of our cars and never mentioned it again.  That is what seasoned, smart parents do.  Parents who don’t want to traumatize their kids, who want to avoid tears and future therapy sessions.  Not me.)

After the toy sold, I was crawling around our basement looking for additional pieces of “the jungle” to give the buyer.   In the meantime, the Munchkins re-discovered the toy and quickly decided it was their new favorite.  They played with it for probably an hour (which was longer than they’d played with it in the past 3 months combined).  I thought about cancelling the sale for approximately two-tenths of a second before the huge pile of Christmas gifts waiting to be assembled and wrapped flashed in my mind. We needed to make space or prepare to be on TLC’s Hoarders–no doubt this toy had to go.

The next morning, I received a message from the buyer that she would be dropping by in the next 30 minutes, so I had a genius idea to set the toy by the door and hope for the best.  I assumed *if* the Munchkins even noticed it, they’d have plenty of time to play with it and move on to one of their other 100 toys before the jungle toy was picked up.

Wrong.

I didn’t think about the worst-case scenario which, of course, is exactly what happened.

The Munchkins noticed the jungle toy immediately after I set it by the door, squealed with joy and started playing and dancing with their newly beloved toy.  And not more than 30 seconds later, the doorbell rang and the seller arrived 30 minutes EARLY to pick it up.

Tears, snot bubbles and broken hearts…I literally had to pry the toy out of my crying toddlers’ hands to give it to the buyer.

Worst. Parent. Ever.

Does it get much worse than ripping a favorite toy out of your children’s little hands?  No joke–my Munchkins cried for probably 10 minutes, each one crying for “my jungle.”  The toy had NEVER had a name before I sold it!

It took THREE weeks of my Munchkins asking, “Where’s my jungle?” before they finally quit bringing it up daily. I try to explain each time they ask that new little boys and girls are playing with it and mommy bought new toys with the money from selling it, but I don’t think it will ever sink in.  Even this past week I was asked out of the blue, “Where’s my jungle?”

Ouch.

So word to the wise:  Plan VERY carefully before selling any of your child’s toys so you don’t risk scarring their little hearts and minds for years to come.  I have a feeling I’ll be paying for this one in the future…

Here is the link to the original post on the Greeley Tribune website:

http://www.greeleytribune.com/news/feature3/10071113-113/toy-jungle-toys-munchkins