Going from teacher to school mum has been a very interesting challenge. I had suddenly forgot so many things I constantly whined about that parents did and how I was never going to be that parent when my kids started school. Here I am in full mum mode, the teacher switch off and doing pretty much what I said I would never do. So with term two approaching and with the help of my little man Jack, we have come up with a list of what us school mums can be doing to help our kids during the school terms.
1. Being Organised - One of my earlier blogs talked about how we can be more organised for school in the morning. As a mum, we think dropping our kids off after the bell isn't so bad. By the time they get to class they will only be lining up anyway....Wrong! While this MIGHT be true it is possible your child has got themselves in full panic mode of being in trouble for lateness and unsettled them for most of the day. Not to mention annoying the teacher. I totally get the rush of the morning but if waking up twenty minutes earlier helps you get your child to school before the bell then I encourage you to think about it. As a teacher, I was so frustrated with the students who were constantly late but now as a mum, I see that it's not Jack's fault, It's mine so why should he pay for it.
Jack's Opinion: I don't like getting there late because I'm worried I will get in trouble and that will make me sad. I like getting to school early because then I have time to play with my friends before the bell goes.
2. Pack a Lunch Box for One - This had been my biggest fail of all. I'm now a mum worrying whether Jack is going to have enough food for the day. What if he eats everything at recess and is then starving at lunch? What if he doesn't like something? Better just pack the entire contents of my kitchen in his lunch box to be safe .... NO! Think of yourself as a child. You are in the classroom working hard and the bell goes. Would you rather eat or play? If you are thinking like a kid your answer would be play. I asked Jack this question and he had answered play before I had finished giving all the options. They aren't at school ALL day so a small amount of food while they are there is enough and they can eat more when they get home or have a bigger breakfast and dinner. So to help you, you can adopt these rules.
Three packed foods and one piece of fruit e.g. banana, yoghurt, sandwich, muesli bar,
Quick and easy to eat
Organised into recess and lunch
As a teacher (pre-kids) I thought parents would get really annoyed at me if I didn't make sure their kids ate what they were packed but I couldn't believe how much food some kids had. I had a class full of upset children because they just wanted to go play so I adopted the rule that as long as your sandwich was eaten then I would take responsibility on the rest not being. While I was on duty I would see SO many children throwing yoghurt, muesli bars and packet foods in the bin and I would run up and ask them why they just wasted their food. Two answers; Because I couldn't open it. Because I needed to eat everything in my lunch box and I'm already full.
I had made these same mistakes with Jack and I'm grateful I had the discussion with him because again, I had gone full mum mode and forgot what I saw as a teacher at school. Jack brought tubs of yoghurt home because I had forgotten to pack him a spoon. Of course he couldn't eat it! Jack can't undo the squeezy packets and open muesli bars so I now loosen the lid and snip the top of the bar. We also made a list together of what he liked in his sandwich and what was quick and easy to eat before playtime.
Jack's Opinion: I eat my food fast so I can go play. I can eat lots when I get home from school.
3. Homework - Now I will personally apologise for setting term projects to do at home like make a giant sized mini beast or a power point presentation about Australia! From a teachers point of view this is all about combining home and classroom and collaborating with parents. However, with multiple kids at home or a new baby or a full time job tasks like this are a real challenge. I'm not saying don't do them; if they are set for your child I think you should. At the end of the day if you refuse to do it, it's your child that stands in front of the class with nothing to show not you.
I have had my fair share of parents angry with me their child hasn't gone up quickly in reading levels or other things not improving. As a mum yes that is frustrating because you want your child to succeed. Something I forgot rather quickly was that while I only think about and help my one child, the teacher has to think about and help a full class of children plus try and have a life outside of school. So this is how homework helps. Children need to read everyday but a teacher can't listen to every child read everyday so they set aside time to listen to groups of children a few times a week and then rely on us parents to read with our kids each night. If you want your child to keep improving then this is the best way you can help. I have friends that work full time and find reading time and practising spelling a real struggle so they do it in the car on the way home from school. Save story books at night for weekends and swap them with readers or do it over breakfast in the morning.
The most important thing to remember is that you are their mum. You are responsible for making them feel safe, nurtured and nourished. A child feels safe when they are in a calm and reassuring environment. If I can make Jack feel that way about home and school by being organised and providing a stress free morning then I will try my best and do what it takes to ensure he doesn't enter school worried and nervous. By packing him a lunch that will give him plenty of time to play and enjoy a break from the classroom then a quick, easy and nutritious lunch he will have. Being patient and encouraging while you help them with homework instead of getting frustrated they keep making the same mistake (we all do it, we are only human) will help them to not copy your frustration or stress because they aren't pleasing you and failing. Reduce play dates after school or make them during holidays to help your afternoon run, rush free.
I know as a mum I am only doing my best but these three ways to help Jack get the best out of school are a small sacrifice for seeing him smiling and confident when he walks out of the classroom.
Keep at it school mummas, you are really amazing!
© The Realistic Mum
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