1. Comfort your Child’s Bonding with their Teacher/s
Children need to feel connected to an adult they believe will keep them safe. When they are not with their parents, they need to transfer their attachment focus to their teacher, otherwise they’re too anxious to settle down and learn. If you notice your child doesn’t feel good about school:
- Contact the teacher immediately.
- Gracefully explain that your child does not seem to have settled in yet, and you hope they can make a special effort to reach out to them so he/she feels at home.
- Follow up with the teacher and your child on their progress.
2. Talking to Kids About Differences
Whether it’s a classmate or a loved one that may be different than them in some way, it’s important to be prepared and to address your child’s curiosity as openly and honestly as you can. Here are some helpful tips to help you be prepared when your child comes to you for answers:
It’s okay to notice
- Children are naturally curious, so when they see someone different than them, their first instinct is to ask about it. If you notice your child staring at a child with a disability, take the lead and start a conversation. For example, “I see you looking at that little girl in her wheelchair, you might be wondering why she needs it. Some people’s muscles work differently, and her wheelchair helps her move around.”
- Acknowledging differences prepares your child to live in a multiethnic society. This is true for gender, identity, disability, and faith.
Teach understanding and empathy
- Don’t ignore differences. Instead, help your child develop a non-judgmental response.
- Talk about that individual’s strengths instead of focusing on their weaknesses. Then talk about your child’s strengths and weaknesses. Explain that just because we struggle in one area doesn’t mean we can’t excel in another area. Help your child see that we are all human and we would want help in areas we struggle in too.
- The first goal is to establish a strong sense of commonality
- Talking to your child about similarities will show your child that having a differences doesn’t define them, just like your child’s physical characteristics doesn’t define them. Explain how they are similar in a lot of ways. They both like to have fun, they have feelings, they love their family, and they have a favorite sport.
Use respectful terminology
- Remember children absorb everything they hear. It’s important to not use terminology that could make someone feel left out, or imply that they are less than anyone else. Don’t use differences as a way to describe an individual.
- Correct your child if you hear them using derogatory terms and explain to them why it may be hurtful.
Treat their devices with respect
Help your child understand that a person with a disability may have a device and those devices are there to help them, and that they are not toys. For example, if your child notices a service dog, explain why they can’t touch him/her. State that their job is to help that person see and they’re working right now, so let’s not distract them.
3. Facilitate Healthy Friendships
Children need to feel bonded with at least one other child.
Topics to discuss
- Respecting their friend’s boundaries as well as their own boundaries.
- Forgive where you can and seek forgiveness when you make a mistake.
- Discuss the importance of listening to their friends to help understand their friend’s needs.
- Acknowledge that everyone is human and each person makes their own choices.
- Why gossiping is unhealthy.
- Explain how to be a positive friend.
If you notice your child may not feel adapted to their new environment
- Ask the teacher if they’ve noticed who your child is hanging with.
- Ask your child which kid/kids they’d like to invite over to play or hangout. If they aren’t comfortable with how the other child would respond to a playdate invitation, you can always invite the parent/s with their child for dinner after school.
4. Carpool Basics
Communicate with your child each school year on how they are getting to and from school. Take a walk with your child around the carpool area or bus stop before school starts and go over the essential information they will need to know.
Parent/ Child communication
- Introduce your child to their bus driver and suggest they may feel more comfortable sitting close to an adult
- Cover the bus dismissal time, for this could have kids feeling confused or anxious
- Communicate with your child the vehicle you will be driving and the location you will be at
- Make sure you are early to pick up your child if possible
- Talk about booster seats, car seats, and shot gun. Safety is key!
- Set car rules for the kids
- Bring snacks! Your children will be hungry after school
Parent carpool etiquette
- Refrain from texting, speeding, or any other forms of irregular unhealthy habits out of courtesy and safety for others.
- Know your rotation patterns if you will be switching off with another adult for carpool duty during the week
- Get there early to pick up your child if you know you are in a rush to stay clear of reckless driving
- Make the drop off smooth by preparing all backpacks and bags prior to the carpool line
- Stay calm- Remember your children are watching you J
5. Lunch Room 101
Each school campus has their own cafeteria expectations and rules to follow and I encourage you to help better explain why they are there to make the transition smooth for your child. The most important rule is to incorporate and teach Cafeteria kindness, where our children respect individuals and honor them for who they are. Kindness is really what good manners are all about!
Treating cafeteria employees with kindness
- Teaching your children how to foster kindness to all employees in the lunch room.
- A simple please and thank you goes a long way.
- Remind your child that these workers are individuals who have feelings and we should respect them, just as we would want to be treated.
- Teach your child to clear their trash and wipe any mess they might have or have not made.
- Describe how cleaning up after their mess shows respect and kindness to the school staff and themselves.