How to prepare your child for the first days back at school

It’s back to school time and to accompany the smell of freshly sharpened pencils and brand new, plastic-y lunch boxes, invariably we will all receive stacks on stacks of  paper from our child’s teacher that welcome us to their classroom, explain how drop-off/pick-up will work and asks for our input on our child’s strengths and weaknesses. And from what I’ve gathered over the last few years of elementary school is that back to school parenting means fudging some of those teacher forms.

If your kiddo has a really great teacher, he or she might even provide you with several pages that allow you to describe your child in detail:

What are your child’s favorite things?

Describe your child in 5 words…

What is your child’s learning style?

I am beyond thankful for good teachers and so appreciate the opportunity to offer my insight and expertise on my own child, however whenever I sit down to fill out these forms (and you guys, I love filling out forms. I think it’s maybe one of the top 5 reasons we’re adopting) I immediately feel like my chops as a parent are under fire.

Because you just know there is a subtext to each innocent sounding question:

What motivates your child? 

Loosely translates to: “How are you currently bribing your child to complete tasks?” So as the mom, you have to do backflips to come up with creative answers that highlight your evolved parenting skills, as well as your child’s innate ability to enjoy chores and school-work without any outside pressure.

For example (to be read in a high-pitched, bubbly, sing-song voice or your best, overly-nasal “I’m the best mom on the block” voice):

_________is very socially motivated. He/She loves to be a leader and will take any opportunity to try something new! Being a classroom helper or a peer assistant would be extremely motivating to him/her. At home, we utilize positive behavior reinforcements whenever appropriate, so he/she enjoys being praised after a job well done (or well-attempted!)

When you really should write:

I guess he/she would do stuff if you gave him/her Skittles? I’m 100% sure candy would work. Or extra recess. Maybe try candy on the playground.

Back to School Parenting Means Fudging Some of those Teacher Forms:

What upsets your child?

Loosely translates to: “Is your kid a whiner?” And you know – they all are sometimes! But we don’t want their teacher knowing that before the year even starts! So we write something like…

________ is appropriately emotional. He/she likes to stand up for friends if they are being picked on or not being included. He/she is great at identifying their feelings and will let an adult know if he/she needs help navigating a tricky social situation.

When you really should write:

Do you have a spare piece of paper I could use? I don’t know if I’m going to have room to write a comprehensive list on these three lines. Specifically, I would look out for any time when he/she is not allowed to be the supreme ruler of the land. That can be upsetting. Additionally, the whole Santa Claus conversation seems to be a hot button issue lately, so I’d steer clear of that – and North Korea.

What do you hope your child will learn this year?

Loosely translates to: “How much do you really know about ____-grade curriculum? Also, are you a tiger mom who wants her preschooler writing his name in cursive and reciting multiplication tables with his nose to the wall?” And so you say…

I hope my child will learn the value of hard work, lasting friendships and come out of this year with a love of learning. We’re not really caught-up on grade-level standards and understand this can be a really tricky area for teachers – there are such high demands placed on little ones these days! All we want is for our child to do his/her best, but of course understand that children are different and excel and struggle in different things at different times. We look forward to a fun year full of exploration, movement, reading and lots of new friends.

When you should really write:

I hope my child will learn the value of hard work, lasting friendships and come out of this year with a love of learning. We’re not really caught-up on grade-level standards and understand this can be a really tricky area for teachers – there are such high demands placed on little ones these days! All we want is for our child to do his/her best, but of course understand that children are different and excel and struggle in different things at different times. We look forward to a fun year full of exploration, movement, reading and lots of new friends.

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