Knowing their elementary school teacher may help kids with first day jitters. That’s because first day jitters aren’t confined to those kids making the leap from preschool to kindergarten. Adults are still figures of authority to kids, and the first day of a new grade with a new teacher can still be a bit intimidating. Teachers already know this, and they don’t necessarily want to go into the school year blind, either.
“I know many teachers send summer letters home with a child questionnaire for the parent to fill out. This helps teachers get to know their students,” explains Kristen Bogdan. Bogdan has been a first-grade teacher in Hudson Falls, NY, for eleven years, and as a teacher and a parent, she understands the importance of that first interaction between teacher and student. Filling out a child questionnaire helps the teacher get to know the student, but doesn’t do much to help the student get to know the teacher. Once parents find out who their child’s teacher will be, they could get in touch with that teacher and see if a meet and greet could be set up, if one hasn’t been set up already.
How to Introduce a Kid to Their Elementary School Teacher
- Teachers want to know their students: Many teachers want to know and meet their students before the first day. They may arrange an open house or send out a questionnaire.
- Visit the classroom beforehand: seeing the classroom, the arrangement of the desks or tables, and the location of their locker can help make kids more comfortable on the first day of school.
- Establish a morning routine in the summer: it doesn’t have to be much – just making sure the kids are awake and dressed and brushed by the time they’d have to leave for school makes the actual first day a breeze.
- Coach kids to solve their own problems: kids who can solve problems, make earnest attempts and are confident to ask for help can handle the uncertainty of a new classroom.
“Some teachers even set up a day in the summer for any child to come in and see the classroom,” says Bogdan. “This could let your child see their classroom, meet the teacher, and see where their cubby or locker is.”
Even something as simple as seeing their name on a locker or a chair can make the new school year less daunting to a kid. They may run into some classmates and school friends from previous grades. If the school district or teacher doesn’t have this kind of open house planned, parents can get in touch with that teacher and see if a meet and greet could be set up; most school districts have a faculty directory.
It’s no secret that kids who thrive in school have engaged parents, and that starts with creating a home environment where school is important. The biggest effort parents and kids can make to prepare for the new school year is to get on a school schedule ahead of time, advises Bogdan. “A week or two before school starts, push back bedtime, get an earlier start to the day, and definitely practice a morning routine: getting dressed, brushing teeth, packing a backpack, etc.”
Kids who have a sufficiently-developed sense of self will be better prepared to adjust to a new classroom environment, because the classroom dynamics of previous grades may not match the new one. “All teachers have their own unique style, but all teachers care,” says Bogdan. Some skills are indispensable no matter the patterns of the new grade. “Students need to know problem-solving skills (trying to solve a problem on your own first, and then ask a teacher for help), how to seek help, the importance of being kind to everyone, and definitely responsibility,” Bogdan explains.
And maybe parents are the ones who need to manage their anxiety; though a lot can be said for making a good first impression and having a strong start, many kids are probably fine with showing up on the first day and learning the lay of the land. Life will always have uncertainty, and kids need to learn how to navigate their own way. Coaching kids on how to advocate for themselves and find solutions to their problems are lessons they are going to need for the rest of their lives. And if they screw up – which they will – teaching a child to be emotionally resilient is the best prep they can have.
“Students can put their best foot forward by trying their best every single day,” says Bogdan. “Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, because mistakes are proof you are trying.”