You’ve got the basics down pat. The backpacks are good to go, new sneakers are ready for running, and the clothes still have the fresh-from-the-store smell.
By now you might have even received your child’s class schedule or homeroom assignment.
Even if your child has their address and your phone number memorized, there are still a few things to consider.
1. Where you came from
If you just PCSed into the area, let the teacher know where you lived most recently. Even though Common Core is out there and many states use it, not every state follows identical standards. Different states teach different topics at different times of the year or in different grades.
Those first few weeks are mainly for review and reteaching. Sharing your last duty station location will allow this year’s teacher to cross-check standards and try to cover any knowledge gaps.
2. Contact Info
Share it all! Pass on every phone number where you or your spouse could possibly be reached. Make sure the teacher has your most checked email addresses, too. Have a friend to use as an emergency contact? You’ll want to write that down.
Yes, all of this is probably on file in the office. But sharing it with the teacher helps them to keep you in the loop or contact you fast.
3. IEP or 504 Plan
Teachers are in charge of making sure these education plans are followed exactly as written. Looping them in right away will only benefit your child.
At Meet the Teacher Day, pass along a copy of your child’s IEP or 504 Plan. The teacher will probably already have a copy, but it never hurts to overshare this information. Highlight the copy you are sharing today to let the teacher know important items. You could also include a letter from a previous teacher and the most recent progress report from the last school.
4. Allergies or medical concerns
Allergies, especially to food, are super common in classrooms today. Almost every grade, if not every class, has at least one child with an allergy.
If your child has an allergy, make sure the teacher knows ASAP! Explain the specific allergens, how reactions are triggered, the symptoms, and the treatment. If you have a medical plan in place, file it with the nurse and share it with your teacher.
5. Tips or tricks
Tell the teacher everything that will help them on Day One. If your child wears glasses or hearing aids, let the teacher know. Does your kiddo work better when seated close to the board or away from a particular friend? Let the teacher know. If your child needs help remembering assignments or staying on track, let the teacher know. Sharing this information is super important and can start the year off on the right foot.
6. Deployments or TDY
Deployments and long separations can trigger a whole lot of changes for children. Missing a parent and possibly shouldering more responsibility at home can cause a whole lot of stress. Stress can cause grades to plummet or increase negative behaviors. If teachers are on the lookout for these types of changes, you can all work together to help your child stay on track.
7. Family situations
Families change all the time and every family has a different dynamic. Just like deployments or separations, changing in family life can cause stress. Let the teacher know, within reason, about adding new children to the home, divorce/separations, step-parents, step-siblings, or leaving military life. The teacher will be able to keep an eye out for unusual behaviors or changes in academic success.
Best way to share
Meet the Teacher or the first day is not the time to get into the nitty gritty. Your teacher is trying to get face time with twenty or more parents and students. Your interactions today will be very fast. Instead, pass on the most important info in a document or a folder. Label everything with your child’s name, then hand it over. If you already have the teacher’s email address, send everything digitally.
One thing you should do
When you hand over the folder, send the email, or speak face-to-face, ask for a meeting within the next two to four weeks. The meeting is just a simple check-in. You’ll ask how your child is doing, the teacher will let you know how they are settling in, and everyone will walk away feeling a little bit better. The idea of this meeting is to start that team building process so that you can all help your child this school year.
By Meg Flanagan