9 back-to-school mistakes parents make
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Learning Curve1 of 10
It's not just kids who have to prepare for a new school year—plenty of parents could also use a lesson in how to handle the much-anticipated first day. Glo talked to Sylvia Lietz, an early childhood educator with more than 30 years of experience, to find out what moms and dads should do (and not do) to ensure their little one makes the grade.
That's Classified2 of 10
"Don't corner the teacher to share a variety of personal details about your child while he or she is standing right next to you," says Lietz. "Children have ears too and often find this embarrassing." What's more, the first day of school is hectic and the teacher will need to greet other children and parents. If there is something important to share with the teacher, Lietz suggests putting it in writing and letting the teacher know that way.
Short & Sweet3 of 10
When it comes to young children, "make good-byes quick," says Lietz. "It's OK to linger until they're comfortable, but don't watch them nervously and wring your hands." Children often pick up on their parents' anxiety and it makes them anxious as well. If your child is resistant, firmly state, "Mommy will stay a few more minutes. Maybe we can read this story together and then it will be time for me to go." Stick to your timeline and include your child in the process, says Lietz. Empowering your child will make them feel more in control.
Where'd You Go?4 of 10
On the other hand, never sneak out. "That's very scary for the child," says Lietz. Instead, once your child appears at ease in the classroom, you can say your good-bye discreetly. For example, if your child is busy coloring, Lietz suggests letting them know that you're excited to see the finished picture when you come back. You're keeping them engaged in what they're doing, while reassuring them that you'll return.
Excuses, Excuses5 of 10
Parents, do your homework. "Many teachers have sent a list of what the child needs for the first day of school," says Lietz. "I've had parents show up and say, 'Oh, I completely forgot' or 'I've been so busy.'" If your kid comes to school with nothing but his backpack and a lunchbox while the other kids have a packed cubby, he or she will feel less prepared.
Food for Thought6 of 10
"Parents should let their child help pack the lunch, so the child has some ownership," says Lietz, reminding moms and dads that young children have small appetites, so don't overdo it. "Sometimes children feel like a failure when they can't finish their lunch," she says. "I've seen kids cry because of it."
Don't Be a Buttinski7 of 10
If your child is tussling over a toy with another student, resist the urge to play referee. "That's what the teachers are there for," says Lietz. Similarly, don't hover around your child introducing them to others students. "Children need to recognize that they're independent and build their own skills and confidence," explains Lietz.
Snooze or Lose8 of 10
If you've been lax about bedtime, then it's time to start adhering to a schedule. Kids need eight to ten hours of sleep, says Lietz. If your child is getting less, then it will no doubt affect their behavior and performance in school. In fact, one recent study found that children who sleep less than nine hours a night or have irregular sleep patterns (going to bed at different times) struggle with basic skills, such as reading comprehension and grammar.
Dressed for Success9 of 10
Don't let your kid leave the house with serious bed head and wearing yesterday's clothes—even if it's their favorite Captain America shirt. "We ask parents to bathe their kids daily and send them to school in fresh clothes," says Lietz, noting that kids get sick easily and teaching personal hygiene is important. For the sake of their health and their reputation (no one wants to be labeled the "messy" kid), make sure your son or daughter shows up for class clean.
Extra Credit10 of 10
Throughout the school year, keep your child's teacher informed of any major changes at home, such as a death in the family or one parent moving out, says Lietz. "If the child is acting out, the teacher will better understand why," she adds.