My son is starting fifth grade. He already has a major case of jaded “senioritis” and can’t wait to be a middle schooler. He certainly acts like one most of the time! Even though I’m happy for my son to be so close to a new season of learning and life, for the most part, I would agree with others when they say that school makes things move rapidly! It feels like yesterday that he started kindergarten: how we posed for pictures in the dewy morning; how we walked him to the bus stop; how ready our son was to get on that big yellow thing and start his new life; and how different and strange it felt to be alone in the house trusting that he would safely travel the route, get into the big school by himself, and be taken care of by others for an entire day.
Fast forward a couple of years and here we are, almost ready to move on to bigger and newer things in secondary school. The thrill and cuteness of elementary school has waned. In place of my innocent and eager kindergartner stands a boy on the edge of adolescence, ready to stretch his social and academic wings further. As he has changed, I have too. As a parent, you enter into the school system naïve and perhaps slightly spoiled from the fun and perfection of preschool. And of course, you passionately wish that all will go well. When things aren’t ideal, it’s our natural instinct to get upset and to troubleshoot problems that arise. And all of that is OK. But throughout my years as a mom, I’ve seen and heard far too many instances where fellow parents might have too high of expectations about school, teachers, and the learning environment. So if I—now a seasoned school mom—could give all newcomers some advice about navigating through your child’s experiences with school, here is what I would say:
There have been many times when my first instinct about an issue about school has been wrong simply because my emotions jumped the gun. If something is not immediately dangerous or pressing, let time and nature solve the problem. In my experience, everything usually works itself out without my intervention and I’ve worried for nothing. Teach your children to advocate for themselves. This communicative life skill may be more important than anything academically learned. Before you head into school to discuss an issue, teach your child to speak up about it. Only after this should you intervene if there are still issues.
Remember that failure is part of life.
Don’t come to the rescue for forgotten homework or missed deadlines. Learning from mistakes teaches children how to better organize themselves and to be independent.
Finally, have infinite faith in the teachers.
Our teachers work harder than anyone can imagine, and this goes for even the ones who may not have the most ideal personalities or charisma. It’s crucial for children to learn that you’re not going to get along with everyone in life, and sometimes having a not-so-perfect teacher is the best tool to learn this! Put your trust in these trained professionals and appreciate that your children are learning so many things from various personalities all day long, and that in itself can be priceless! Best of luck to all students and parents out there!