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Meeting The Teacher

Many children are heading back to school this week (if not already back already).  It is a time of transition and change, of new faces and old.  It is a time of adjustment and a time of schedules.  And that’s just the teachers!

Whether your child is starting preschool or nursery school for the first time or is a seasoned pro at the education system, take a small moment to recognize your child’s teacher.  Creating a simple gift is a great way to introduce yourself and bring a smile to your child’s teacher’s face!  Here are a couple of quick and easy ideas to get the creative juices flowing:

1.  The traditional teacher-gift – an apple!  Apples are nutritious, easy to transport and even boys don’t mind sharing one with their teacher (my son absolutely cringes when I suggest a small bouquet of flowers from our garden, but an apple is “cool”).  Tie a note to the stem to finish it off.  I found a lovely poem online for a teacher-apple:

You plant the seeds of wisdom with patience and concern,
And your efforts all bear fruit as your students grow and learn.
You offer them good food for thought, you care right to the core.
There’s just no better teacher than the one this apple’s for!

2.  Another cute idea is to give your child’s teacher a small bag of Hershey Hugs chocolate candies.  Again, I found a cute poem online to accompany these yummy snacks:

You are a wonderful teacher – I think you’re very neat!
That’s why I put together this special little treat!
A little bag with Teacher Hugs to get you through your day,
And let you know that I am glad that you are here to stay!

3.  Other simple ideas:  give a cute pencil with a small note:  “You’ve got the ‘write’ stuff!”; tie a note to a ruler: “You really measure up!”; or a can of his/her favorite soda with “We’re bubbling over with excitement to have you for a teacher this year!”

May 5 – 9 is Teacher Appreciation Week!

She is the one who taught your son to subtract.  He is the person who helps your daughter with her understanding of science concepts.  She is the constant influence of a love of learning in your child’s life.  And, it is time to honor that special person.  Next week, May 5 – 9, is Teacher Appreciation Week!  Here are some simple ways to tell your child’s teacher how much he or she is appreciated.

  • A picture is worth a thousand words – Take a class picture and put it in a frame.  To make it even more personal, have the class sign the frame in metallic or dark marker, or place the photo in a mat before framing and let the students all sign the mat.
  • Invest in the classroom – make a donation to your child’s class that the teacher would appreciate: a jigsaw puzzle, a new book, or an education game such as Scrabble or Uno are good choices.  Also consider a basket of teacher goodies, such as pens, post it notes or notepads, healthy snacks and fun desk accessories.
  • Handmade gifts speak volumes – have your child decorate a flower pot and place a plant in it.  Or, decorate a clipboard with fabric and paint.  Another idea is to take a blank canvas book bag and personalize it with fabric markers.
  • Donate to a worthy cause – find out some of your child’s teacher’s interests and make a donation to a charity in your child’s teacher’s name.  If your child’s teacher loves animals, donate to the local animal shelter.  Or, make a donation to the local Head Start or Child Wellfare organization.
  • Meals made easy – prepare lunch for your child’s teacher one day, or offer to supply dinner one evening.  Our favorite is to deliver breakfast (a day early so we don’t have to trudge over to her house in our jammies!) consisting of homemade banana bread, juice, bagels and cream cheese.  Or, get your child’s teacher a gift certificate to a great restaurant or other eatery such as ice cream!
  • Take a rest – teacher’s feet are awfully tired by the end of the day, so why not purchase a gift certificate for a pedicure at a local spa?  Some can be found for very reasonable costs, and simply having the opportunity to enjoy a bit of pampering is a great gift!
  • Write a letter – let your child’s teacher know how special he or she is to your child, and have your child do the same.  Design a card with a heartfelt message inside and your child’s teacher will enjoy one of the best gifts of all – appreciation.

The First Days Of School – Setting The Tone For The Rest Of The Year

Going back to school, no matter what the age, can be an emotional time for children, parents and teachers.  It marks the beginning of another year of learning.  The rules and standards you set the first week of school can help your child be more successful for the rest of the year.  Here are some ideas on how to make the transition back to school easier for everyone!

BEFORE SCHOOL STARTS:

  • COUNTDOWN!  If you still have several days to go until the first day of school, make a countdown calendar.  Cross off each day before the first day, or make a tear-off style calendar, tearing off a number as you count down to the day school begins.
  • Early to bed, early to rise.  Unless your child is a living alarm clock like mine, it is best to start the early wake-up time before the actual first day.  Children need at least a week to readjust their sleep habits so they can be alert and ready to learn when they walk into school that first day.
  • Take an early tour.  If your child’s school offers a “back to school” night prior to the first day, take advantage and go walk the halls with your child.  If not, call the school and see if there is some time you can go up to the school and have a look around, even if it is just to see the cafeteria and gym.

And, during that first week, here are some habits to establish early to aid in a successful year:

  • SCHEDULES:  Create a time during the day for homework.  Even if your child doesn’t have “homework”, this can be a great time to work on independent reading.  Our routine in our house is to have a 15 minute break after school (for snacks and talking about our day) and then homework time before dinner.  Dinnertime and beyond is our family time, so we try to knock homework out early!
  • Communicate with the teacher:  As a former public school teacher, I cannot emphasize enough how much of an impact it made on my relationship with a child when I developed a relationship with the parent.  Remember that the teacher has 17-24 other parents as well.  Be respectful of his/her time, but make an effort to introduce yourself early and make yourself available if he/she needs to talk with you.  And, let the teacher know how much you appreciate them.  Teachers rarely hear that!
  • Set up a few chores.  If your child is not already helping out around the house, adding this to the routine during the school year is a perfect time to do so.  It instills a feeling of family and community; the child is helping contribute to the well-being of the family.  Just make sure that the chore or chores aren’t too overwhelming; taking the recycling out to the bin or setting the table for dinner are great, easy chores for children of any age.
  • The debriefing.  From Day One, make sure you spend some time with your child, reviewing their day.  “How was your day” is not good enough.  With my older son, we have a game we play as we walk home from school.  I challenge him each day to tell me three good things that happened to him at school that day before we get home.  More often than not, this also opens the door to things that bothered him, scared him, or confused him.  And, by the time we make it home, he’s really talking.  His response is always far better than the typical “Fine” response.  When his days aren’t so great, he feels very comfortable telling me about it.
  • Preparation.  If possible, have everything ready the night before – clothes laid out, lunch made/lunch money packed in backpack, homework done and ready to go back to school.  This will make the morning routine much easier on everyone.  Don’t forget to stick a note in your child’s belongings – a pants pocket, in the backpack, on the lunch napkin.  That little note will go a long way in helping your child feel comfortable throughout the day.
  • Reward yourselves.  When the first week draws to a close, try to plan something a bit more personal for your children: a special dinner, a short outing, a family night, a movie.  And let them know that they’ve had a great week and you are looking forward to many more!
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