It's back to school time here in Wisconsin. As much as I love our long beautiful summers, September brings cooler temps, structure, and new opportunities.
On the day we find out who my kids have each year, I am usually just as excited as they are. These are the people who will see my kids more than me on many days. And, I have the opportunity as a parent to invest in those who are investing in the hearts and minds of my kids.
As parents, we are very intentional about widening the circle of who invests in and shapes our kids. And, when we partner with and communicate with those in our kids' lives, we can have a greater impact! So, our school is very important to us--our kids will learn so much inside those walls and we want to make the most of the experience! Here are three ways all parents can make the school year great:
GIVE GENEROUSLY. This one seems quite obvious. Our teachers give so much to teach--way more than I probably know. So, if there is anything I can give that will support them, make them feel valued, and relieve some of the burden, I'm in! I know it can be a lot of school supplies to buy--I am still trying to find gym shoes for three girls for less than $20/pair. But, that investment is only a little of what they will use to learn and grow and experience new things this year!
There are so many ways you can give generously and make this year better for your child, his/her teacher, and classmates. Some of you have time. Give it. Read with kids. Help with changing out bulletin boards (those staples can be tricky). Put packets together. So many of the jobs our teachers need help with are things any of us can do!
Our family also budgets a certain amount to give away to our school and teachers each year. This allows me to pick up a favorite drink for a teacher on my way to the school, or buy extra glue sticks for the kindergarteners, or bring dinner to teachers on conference night! Last year our small group rallied together and took pints of ice cream to all the staff at our two elementary schools before spring break. Even though it was snowing that day, it was still fun to be able to give and show them how much we appreciate them!
GIVE GRACE. My kids are still young and our school is amazing, so honestly we haven't had to work too hard on this one. But, I can think of a few circumstances last year when something didn't go the way Addison expected. Honestly, I wanted to whine and complain right along with her. But, as the parent, I needed to teach her how to give grace, to give her teacher the benefit of the doubt. Here are some questions we talked through:
Do you think your teacher was trying to intentionally hurt you?
What are some ways you can solve this problem?
Was this a misunderstanding or malicious in nature?
Sometimes our teachers (who work so hard and so long to create a great learning space) miss things or don't see something they should see or actually need help with solutions to a problem. We can teach our kids to respect authority and to solve problems by showing grace. Rather than throwing our kid's teacher under the bus, we can partner with them to help our kid learn!
GIVE RESPECT. This is something our kids definitely catch from us, but it is also something they don't always see. We can show respect to teachers in so many ways. We can show respect in the ways we communicate with a teacher. Are we showing the teachers value in our communication or under-cutting their authority? Are we looking to learn from them or tell them things? Are we looking to partner with them or demand they do it all? I am so thankful for our teachers who show me respect as a parent and truly try to partner with me!
We also try to respect our teachers by doing things the way they ask for them to be done. Whether it is signing the daily folder for the 134th time or sending in forms on time, I want to show them respect by doing it right. I want their day to be a little bit easier because we chose to do what was asked. We are teaching our kids to show other people value by doing what is expected (showing up on time, completing tasks, etc) and usually when people feel valued they feel respected.
Imagine the difference if we all decided to give generously, give grace, and give respect. We could change our schools. Great teachers might keep teaching. A generation could be empowered to grow and invest in the world!
Most of our great staff at our kids' elementary school--we really appreciate all of you!