Back-to-School Tips from a Teacher
By Kara Martinez Bachman
Back-to-school. Most parents greet this time of year with a mix of both anticipation and dread. It’s a time of fresh starts, and a season for setting in place habits that help make the whole school year more productive.
In anticipation of 2019-2020, we spoke to National Board Certified educator, Kelley Williams, a kindergarten teacher at Lizana Elementary School in Gulfport. She has taught for 27 years, with 24 of them at the kindergarten level.
According to Williams, back-to-school readiness boils down to careful preparation that should happen well before the first school day is underway.
“Establishing routine bedtimes before school begins will make the transition from summertime to school time easier,” she explained. “Especially for incoming kindergartners!”
Just the planning phases can set an excellent example for a young student.
“By planning and purchasing school supplies together with their children, parents can set the tone for school with a good, positive attitude that can encourage their child or children to become excited about a new school year,” she said.
She suggests parents begin to discuss the upcoming school year even before it has arrived.
“Taking time over the summer to talk about school…how they are feeling about it, their expectations and uncertainties, your expectations for them and the school…can ease any fears or worries for you or your child.”
Every year, teachers and parents alike face frustrations connected to understanding new classroom rules and policies of the new teacher(s).
“Parents can help prepare their child for school by reading the paperwork that is sent home,” Williams said, in response to a question about her biggest back-to-school frustration as a teacher. “This ensures that parents are aware of the topics and skills taught in class, important dates, school events, and school and class announcements.”
Another issue she deals with as a teacher is having children in the classroom who she suspects aren’t all that well-rested.
“Students not having a set bedtime is a problem, because it can cause students to be tardy and/or miss the beginning of the school day,” she said. This always creates unnecessary anxiety.
As a final tip, Williams suggests it’s important to set up a healthy homework schedule. She said this requires establishing a routine for homework – either doing it right after coming home from school, or waiting a little and having an afternoon break, and then working on homework. She said something as simple as having a specific place to put the child’s backpack every day – or a specific place to sit for doing homework – can make a difference in organizing the school life of a child.
In summary, Williams stressed a simple message that most all teachers feel strongly in their hearts.
“One thing that I want the parents to know and understand is that I am totally invested in their child!” Williams added.
Writer and editor Kara Martinez Bachman is a mom to two teenage kids and author of “Kissing the Crisis,” a humorous essay collection about the zany parts of parenting, marriage and facing midlife.