The new school year is about to begin. Many young moms and dads are getting ready to send their oldest or only children to school for the very first time. Some will even be sending their kids out of the house for the very first time. It can be a scary and exciting experience. Many parents have thoughts and questions but don’t know what or where to ask. Some parents don’t even know what to do they are so overwhelmed. Here at Savor the Mom Life I wanted to interview an experienced teacher to answer some very general questions about the FIRST school experience! Back to School- Interview with a Pre-K Teacher.
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1. How long have you been teaching? What grades have you taught? And how do you feel when it’s back to school time?
This will be year 12 for me. I have taught PreK through Third, having spent now spent 6 years teaching PreK.
Back to school time can definitely be a dread, but it really depends on how the summer went. Other summers where I haven’t been productive or done much fun stuff, I really get depressed going back to school. This summer my family and I, took every opportunity to go do fun stuff, which I balanced with getting a great deal of work done around the house too. I don’t want to go back, but I am ready for that eventuality. It also marks my kid going to a school other than mine. I loved seeing my silly kid bopping down the hallway with her class, but her zoned school is much better for first grade. I am sad to go back in a way because she and I have been together for a few years at my school.
2. How can a parent help him or herself and their child with possible first-day separation anxiety
There’s only one way to do this if your child’s not ready, find a family member, friend, or program and DROP THEM OFF! Get ready for separation anxiety by practicing it a few times. Create some lessons like having a sleepover or having grandparents watch them. Get them used to the world away from you and speak positively about the upcoming school year. these things can help in getting your child mentally prepared for it. Hype up how they’ll have fun, make new friends and learn a great deal. Lastly, be an adult. I know the first year is hard but you’re making it harder for everyone when you are the one struggling to separate from your child. If you get dramatic and emotional, they’re going to do exactly the same.
3. What are some easy self-care ideas to make sure your kiddo has mastered for an easy back-to-school transition?
Some of the big ones here are getting yourself dressed fully, including buttons, straps, zippers, etc. It is so helpful to the school staff if your child can do this. It may be a cute outfit, but don’t send them in it if they need an entourage to get them back into it. If your child can’t put it on themselves, don’t send them in it. The teacher’s attention can’t revolve around just your child.
If your child can’t tie shoes, don’t send them in shoes with laces, please! Do you know who ties those shoes? The teacher and staff. Do you know who ties all those wet shoelaces coming out of the boy’s bathroom? Think about that last question as if it were a sunny day with no rain puddles around. Velcro is amazing, embrace it or get your child to tie their own shoes.
Do dress rehearsals.
Waking up routines, getting packed up routines, getting on the bus routines, all aspects of the school day, rehearse it! This includes lunch. If you want to send your child with reusable containers and a thermos, make sure they can open it and put it back away by themselves. With a rowdy cafeteria full of kids, don’t expect to get back the same spoon you sent, and DO NOT get mad at school staff for losing it. Teach them to get out, eat quickly, then put it all back away.
The main thing I want to emphasize is those routines. They’re going to help your kid and you to navigate all that before school madness!
4. What are some helpful social skills to practice before that first day? What are some academic skills to practice?
Some helpful skills are listening to and answering questions. There’s going to be tons of people speaking to your child and in a school setting, they can’t hide behind your legs and be shy. It’s a process of learning this so practice practice practice. Ask questions about books, movies, shows, family, things at the store, and everywhere else. Also, practice calming down when it’s time. There will be excitement and calm times during the day. Having them be able to adapt to the energy level of the classroom will help them daily.
Academically it’s simple for PreKs. A, B, C and 1, 2, 3 mostly. They should be able to identify all upper and lower case letters by the end of PreK. This includes identifying them in a book, around your world, and on a flashcard. Singing the alphabet is not knowing the alphabet.
Check out these helpful posts for ideas on getting those ABCs and 123s ready!
5. Why is being present in class those first few weeks so important?
The first few weeks of school are pivotal for early learners. This is when they develop all the necessary routines they will be using for the entire school year. They are also developing relationships and learning to play in a formal school environment. No matter how much daycare, even learning-focused daycare, it is not a formal school. They need this time to learn all there is to know about being part of a class and school environment.
6. Why might my child seem more tired or cranky after a school day?
It takes a great deal of physical, mental, and emotional energy to navigate a school day. They will be engaged in so many new activities and interacting with many new people. They will be dealing with new problems and situations. School is tough for literally, everyone involved. It takes time to grow. With time, they will be able to handle an entire school day and have the energy to play until bed. It will take time to adjust. Tiredness and crankiness are natural byproducts of adapting to a school day. This is true for students and school staff!
7. Why do you choose to teach the youngest students?
I started teaching 4 and 5-year-olds because my boss required me to do it. Third grade was the grade and I wanted to stay! I was told that they needed a “powerhouse” in PreK after two awesome teachers moved on.
Without having a choice I moved down four grades. I quickly realized that PreK is THE BEST. While there are some ridiculous challenges that little people bring, they are some of the sweetest, most curious kids in school. They still have little baby cuteness combined with a hunger to learn all about the world. You can teach them routines that will be the envy of the school while also cutting loose and having a bonkers dance party. You can see little people grow tremendously in one short school year. I love everything that PreK has to offer, minus the paperwork of course!
My second reason is a bit philosophical. When you build a house, you can’t build it on the sand, you have to lay a foundation for everything else to be built upon. Without a solid foundation, everything else will develop cracks and fall apart. This is true for school and learning. If a child gets to third grade without learning to read, the energy and time required to get them up to speed are tremendous. Reading at grade level before third grade, they are set up to succeed. If that house doesn’t have a solid foundation, the work required is huge to get it back into good shape. I love providing a great foundation for students to begin their educational journey. I love teaching students the joys of learning and setting them up to succeed in later grades.
Are you feeling ready yet? I truly hope some of these candid words of wisdom are helpful!