What Teachers Want You to Know About Back to School: Off the Record Edition
Ever wish you had the real scoop on what teachers think about back to school? So did we! That’s why we reached out to the teachers, counselors, and administrators in our lives to ask them one simple question:
“What’s one thing you’d want parents to know about back to school?”
They were free to interpret it as they wished. How each teacher responded reflects the community they serve and what’s most pressing on their mind.
- Talk to your kids daily, and ask open-ended questions.
- Get involved in school activities if you have the time and resources!
- Remember that back to school is stressful for kids, parents, and teachers alike.
- Be patient in the carpool line! (Good advice for us adults in regular traffic, too.)
10 Teachers, 10 Different Responses
- “I want parents to know that most of our drama right now is coming from social media and group chats. If your kid has a phone, you need to be talking with them about digital safety and you as the parent need to be aware of how much trouble they can get in when they put everything in writing. We have so many kids go from no behavior records to a behavior tribunal because they type a threat or they’re bullying virtually. I also want parents to know that we need them here! We want them to volunteer as field trip chaperones, classroom helpers, lunch monitors, PTO members, helpers at sporting events, anything. Parent volunteers are SO important!”
- “I always wish parents would be more communicative in all the ways…talking with their kiddos about all the goings on of their school and social lives other than “How’s school?”— as well as communicating with teachers and realizing how much that helps them feel seen, heard, and loved through all the anxieties of school. Be open and listen to their concerns about school! Help them build up the confidence to find solutions to their concerns.
- “I think that parents have much more influence over their kids than they might think. Teachers, peers, celebrities can be role models, but their parents are usually #1 — even if they won’t admit it.”
- “One thing I have learned, especially as a homeschooling mom & teacher, is that every kid learns differently (even within the same family) — some are visual learners, some are auditory learners, some are self-led, and some just need that one-on-one instruction to best absorb the information. If you dig a little deeper to find out how your kid learns best, you’ll be way ahead of the game when it comes to helping them with homework, projects, or even explaining those life-lessons along the way.”
- “Something that’s important to me is that parents stick to the specialized classroom supply list. It’s so helpful when they buy things from my wishlist. I know this sounds crazy, but the school doesn’t provide any supplies, so having parents get everything you need (including wipes and cleaning products) is essential. It’s also really important to check in with the teachers in January or February to see if they need any other supplies because so many things run out.”
- “The first week of school is about getting back into a routine of waking up early and the schedule of classes. It’s about undoing all of those summer habits. The staff and kids are usually exhausted. It’s hard adjusting to being in class all day. Some kids can get really emotional.”
- “I want parents to understand the love and energy that we as teachers are putting into their children. We have our own families and worries but their children are usually front and center in my mind. We spend our own money — not the board of education’s money — to help wherever we can. My main concern is helping these children grow and develop into happy, healthy adults. Some parents need to remember that when they start to weigh down on teachers.”
- “Treat the first month as a time of adjustment. New teachers, new friends, new schedules…it can be a lot! Let your kids know you’re all learning together and enlist their advice in finding the best way forward. It’s not just the kids starting a new school year - it’s the whole family! Stick together and go easy on yourselves while you get into the groove.”
- “Every year is different, and with a new beginning it is helpful for everyone to have an open mind to a new classroom environment for your student. Reach out to your new teacher if you have questions, and don’t be afraid to advocate for them. And of course, be patient in the carpool line — everyone is just trying their best to get everyone home safely each day.”
- “I would love them to know that grades are just one metric of success and the life long skills your children receive from school is learning how to grow, and learn, and be a good friend, and to cope, and have ups and downs. Parental anxiety sometimes gets displaced on our kids. The more we can stay calm, the more calm they will be. If anxiety about going back to school appears, their emotions get big. In these moments, don't get bigger with them, stay small and encourage big deep breaths.”
Some Common Themes
You’ll notice that there are some common themes from the answers teachers provided, despite being from all across the country and in different types of schools. Teachers want to hear from you, and they want you to be involved in your child’s education. That can look like showing up occasionally to school or just asking more detailed questions about what your child does every day.
Teachers also need help! Their job is incredibly taxing and also so, so important. Whether it’s wishlist items or just a little extra grace in stressful situations (or just parent pickup).
How to Help Prepare Your Child For Back to School
Along with helping your child get back into a schedule with regular bedtimes, we recommend using a combination of relationship-building tactics and tech tools to ensure your family can fully adjust to the new normal.
We highly recommend making a tech contract to help set expectations for the school year and place it on the fridge (or another high-traffic area) so everyone can be reminded of its contents. All night video game sessions — here’s how to put a stop to those, by the way— and unlimited YouTube marathons may have been the norm in July, but now it’s a whole different ball game.
Kids need sleep in order to 1). Grow 2) Stay healthy mentally and physically and 3) Focus! Don’t be afraid to set limits and boundaries, and use tech to support you in those efforts by limiting time spent on certain apps or blocking apps and sites altogether.
Another issue that is top of mind for parents is smartphones in schools. If it’s time for your child to have a smartphone, there’s no better phone for kids than the Bark Phone, and that’s because it lets you manage what your child can do on it during the school day. With our screen time settings, you can block everything but educational websites to help keep them on track.
Finally, it’s really not a matter of if but when your child is going to encounter problematic content or people (a.k.a. bullies). Bark’s monitoring feature can help you know what’s really going on in your child’s world because even if you have a super solid relationship with your child, they just might not have the energy or desire to fill you in when things aren’t 100%.
Our advanced technology scans texts, emails, and social media for potential dangers like bullying, threats of violence, online predators, and more. You’ll get an alert if there’s an issue so you can check in and make sure everything is okay. We can’t clear all the obstacles in their path, nor should we. But with Bark, we can get an alert about a potential obstacle and help our kids build coping skills to successfully navigate the rocky path that is growing up in a tech world. Good luck out there and let us know if you have any questions.
Bark is a comprehensive online safety solution that empowers families to monitor content, manage screen time, and filter websites to help protect their kids online. Our mission is to give parents and guardians the tools they need to raise kids in the digital age.