Clinical Therapist * Mental Health Specialist * Media Expert

Back To School Supports

I’m a teacher of 15 years, and every year I want to sit parents down to tell them what I really think. I give out a list of all the ways they can make it an easier school year for their kids and under half will follow it. I get that parents are stressed, I’m one myself — but can you cover some of the key points to making sure kids arrive on time, with their forms filled out and a lunch in hand? I’d be SO grateful!!!

Frustrated Teacher, Richmond

Your Two Cents...

We parents don’t often find the time to put ourselves in a teacher’s shoes. Make sure your list is sent out sooner, rather than later, and hopefully some of it will stick.

Joe, Maple Ridge

If you want your child to have a successful school year then it’s the parents job to set them up for success. Teachers and parents need to support each other more.

Anna, North Vancouver

Michele Kambolis Says...

My children have had miraculous school years where the synergy and working relationships between parent, child and teacher meant lower stress and a happier school year. I’ve also had the polar opposite, when my child’s team just didn’t mesh and my child’s education paid the price. So while you may not know what this year will bring, and we don’t have control over the child-teacher match, there are steps parents can take to create strong footing.

First, imagine being told that you have to work with someone five days a week for 10 months, regardless of whether your temperaments or working style matched. You need to make the best of it. This is equally challenging to teachers, as it is the children they teach. So, the more you can help them get to know your child the better.

Within the first week of school, create a bullet point list that highlights who your child is and what they need to thrive. Include any learning issues, previous assessments, family dynamics, fears and stressors, names of key friends, favourite activities, health issues and their greatest strengths. This Coles Notes version of your child’s operational manual can help secure the teacher-child attachment as her teacher uses the information to form a bond.

Next, keep in mind parents can help set the stage for a child’s entire day. Avoid morning madness by doing as much as you can the night before. Take some time to help your child develop important self-help skills by making lunches together and checking that backpacks are ready. Teaching them how to label everything imaginable can help ensure you’re not buying a new water bottle every week.

Now, if you find their backpack loaded with toys, explain that it might be difficult for other kids; their toys are for home only. You’d be surprised by the schoolyard frenzy that can unfold when toys are brought to school. Transitional objects should be kept safely in their cubby.

Now imagine having half a dozen parents ask you questions that were carefully included in notices that had already been sent home. Taking the time to pull out crumpled pieces of paper at the bottom of your child’s backpack can help keep you up to date and ensure you get the most out of your parent-teacher face time.

Returning forms with lightning speed can help ensure your child’s teacher isn’t spending important teaching time tracking them down; your child won’t be left feeling anxious when everyone else hands in their permission slips to all those wonderful outings.

Drop-off can be difficult for kids, and most manage the transition better when it’s swift and positive. So, front load the teacher with the information they need to support your child through separation anxiety and do your best to avoid lingering. Also, ask your child’s teacher how they prefer to be contacted for those bigger conversations, keeping pick up and drop off times for more urgent and specific questions.

Finally, the school year is a big adjustment for everyone involved. Expect that there may be tears, anxiety, and acting out and trust that it won’t last forever. Set your intentions towards patience and know that each transition is a chance to cultivate the kind of resilience and flexibility that will set the stage for their lifetime.

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