By Kaitlin Johnstone

4 Simple Back-to-School Tips for Parents

It’s back to school time here in Florida and I can’t begin to count how many times I’ve seen memes that read “tag you’re it”, with pictures of parents looking as if they haven’t slept or showered in about a week. Try thinking about how tired you are right now and then multiply that by 18 kids. And please know that I love my job more than anything in the world; however, you haven’t experienced tired until you have been teacher-tired.  So, in honor of going back to my new classroom family this Monday, I thought I’d share with you some tips on how you can help your child and teacher outside of school.


Trust me, you are talking to the girl who will only leave Maddux (our dog) with a very things-moms-really-do-when-kids-go-back-to-schoolselect group of people and he is only a dog! However, you need to know that the longer you stay in the classroom, the harder it is for your child once you do say goodbye. The quicker you go, the faster they will learn the routine and become a part of the classroom community. The morning routine is also a time that I like to catch up with my students and start their day off on a positive track. Remember, all our end goals are for the kids to be happy.


Many times, we ask kids, “how was your day”, or “what did you learn today” and the truth is that if you were to ask me the same questions I would simply answer I don’t know as well because we have so many awesome learning experiences going on all day long that it’s hard to keep up! Maybe start by asking who they played with at recess, or what center they were in for the day. I guarantee you’ll get more information this way!


rcjrM5jMiIt sounds silly when I tell parents to read to their children as much as possible because many people do this naturally, however we all have hectic lives. There is dinner to cook, dishes to clean, pets to take care of, laundry to do, etc. Sometimes the last thing we think of is reading to our children, but I promise you that it is one of the most important routines you could ever establish. Young children who are regularly read to have a larger vocabulary, higher levels of phonological, letter name, and sound awareness, and better success at decoding words. There is a direct correlation between a child’s vocabulary in kindergarten and their academic success in high school.


If you don’t follow any of the other tips for back to school listed above, please take this BE KINDfinal one to heart. Model this simple act every day. Discuss the importance of treating others the way in which you want to be treated. Children are not innately hateful and today, more than ever, we need to do our part to keep their hopeful hearts open with love. One of my fondest childhood memories consisted of me and two of my other friends making a TLC music video. My mom filmed us with her giant video camera slapped to her shoulder as we sang, danced, and drank root beer floats on our “tour bus”. Never did it cross our minds that I couldn’t be Left Eye, not once did we think we were different. In the moment, we were simply three friends who loved sharing time together. Teach your children that they can care for anyone they choose. Show them that all people are worth spending time with. Provide them with experiences that teach them about various cultures and do so in a way that sparks a genuine interest in others. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if a child can read the biggest books and complete difficult algorithms if they can’t look another in the eye and see beyond the surface.


The first day can be nerve racking and exhilarating all at the same time, so take a deep breath and enjoy the ride! I know that I can’t wait to start another incredible year teaching my Firsties for the first time!!!

love kaitlin


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