Step 6 - SETTLE IN: Page 1

Monday
Oct182010

Getting Situated

This page covers:

  • Getting the scoop on the best teachers
  • Building a rapport with your child’s teacher
  • Connecting with other families at the school

So you finally have the school thing figured out and you're ready to settle into your new community.  The one thing that will most directly affect you, and that you’ll have the most control over, are your relationships connected to the school. Here are some ideas to optimize those relationships, some of which you can start laying the ground work for during spring or summer: 

Getting to know the teachers

Ahead of time:  If you're at all concerned about how your kid will "take" to school, or if s/he needs a certain kind of adult energy to make things go smoothly, then it's a good idea to start getting the buzz on teachers even before your child starts school.  One thing that many schools allow is for parents to write a letter describing the ideal learning environment for their child.  In public school you’re not allowed to name what teacher you’d prefer, but if you talk to parents at that school you can find out what terms signal one teacher or another.  This won’t guarantee you’ll get your teacher of choice, but it certainly increases the odds.  The sooner you get this letter in, the better too. 

And even if you aren't concerned about Kindergarten (or whenever your child is entering a new school) you’ll probably want to get the scoop on the best teachers down the line so you can maximize the chances that your child will get his or her ideal teacher each successive year.  As we all know, it's the teacher that makes the difference - and every school, no matter how good or bad its reputation - has better teachers and those considered not as good.

Once school starts:  It’s in your kid’s best interest that you develop a good partnership with his/her teacher.  Kick the year off right – supply some of the items on the wish list, get documents in on time, and express an overall respect and trust in the teacher.  If you find that a good rapport is eluding you, look to your child to see how his or her relationship with the teacher is coming along.  And keep in mind that sometimes teachers have a much easier time relating to their students than to the parents.  So even if your kid's teacher is a tough nut to crack for you, it may mean nothing in terms of how your child is learning and growing in the classroom.  This is where talking to other parents will help you gauge the student-teacher dynamics.

Connecting with other families

Ahead of time:  If you want to ease the first day jitters for your kid, the best thing you can do is find a classmate ahead of time.  If you're going to your neighborhood school, that should be easy as going to the local park and sparking up a conversation, or chatting it up with neighbors.  But if you're venturing out, do some networking through friends (the good ol' email blast, Facebook posting, etc.) to make some connections - or even ask the school to give you a name or two of families who live nearby.  Post on UrbanMamas or here at ScoopOnSchools, and eventually you’ll find a meet up situation. 

Once school starts:  Most schools have plenty of back-to-school events where you'll meet folks.  And once the daily grind of school starts, it's a good idea to try at least once a week to pick up your child and linger with other parents on the playground.  You can follow your child’s lead as well – arrange playdates, introduce yourself to parents of their friends at drop off.  Remember – this community is yours to claim as well as your child’s!

Get a head start on connecting with your upcoming school community.  Compose an email to find other families; get in a school conversation frame of mind.  People love to make introductions and connect their friends to each other.  Think about ways you can jump in the fray.

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