By Beth Pinyerd
These past two weeks, as the new school year has begun early in the morning, I love seeing the excitement of children getting on the school bus with friends. The time that we wait behind the school bus allows us to reflect on our own school days and pray for the children boarding the bus.
I know we all can remember those special teachers who made an eternal difference in our lives for the better. Their classrooms always welcomed students to a “home of academic, social and emotional learning.” Deuteronomy 28:6 states, “You will be blessed when you come in and blessed when you go out.” They always remembered our names, and they took the time to genuinely make a difference in our lives.
Our community is so blessed to have outstanding educators who are passionate about teaching and love to work with students. Whether early childhood, elementary, middle school or high school, these teachers have a mission of believing the best, hoping for the best and encouraging their students. Early in the school year, they begin to assess the needs of their class of children. They reach out to the parents of their students because they know it is a team effort in working and teaching young lives.
As teachers and parents embark on this second week of school, we begin to assess our class of children with the signal SOS:
S – Do the children in my class feel secure and safe?
O – Are the children open to learning?
S – As a child’s teacher, am I being sensitive to a child’s learning needs as well as emotional needs?
Secure and Safe
As children adjust to their new home away from home, the classroom, parents can help facilitate bonding and security for their children with their teachers. Think of it as a team effort to provide a wonderful learning experience for your child. Take time to talk to your child about their school day. Keep a positive focus as they talk to you about their friends, what they learn and what they do. As a parent, you can discern if your child doesn’t seem settled in school yet. Here at the beginning of the year, contact your child’s teacher immediately if you sense that your child is anxious or doesn’t feel good about school. Teachers will spend extra time and give attention to your child by giving him or her a special classroom job so they feel special and connected with the classroom.
I love to see parents leave notes in lunch boxes of my students. Giving your child a little token of encouragement to put in their backpacks or pockets (let the teacher know what you are doing by writing a note or speaking to them) enables your child to feel connected to you as they are in the classroom.
As a teacher, something I recommend to cut down on a child’s anxiety about school is to have your child giggle and laugh about jokes as they go to school. Children love to do “knock-knock” jokes.
Open to Learning
This requires optimism and encouragement from adults. I love to observe parents as they encourage their children to do the best they can with subjects. It’s fun and challenging to break down hard subjects into parts a child can do well. Having success in small steps encourages the child to know they can do it. For instance, memorizing a week’s spelling word list truly encourages the joy of learning. Also, in being open to learning, we need to encourage children not to fear rejection or failure. Giving children hope by praising them when they have worked so hard on their assignments builds their confidence.
This is where teachers and parents focus on the individual child and their needs for learning in order to succeed. Children love to be needed and to help. They want to feel significant. Significance builds confidence in the learning process of children.
Also, Classroom Observer wants to share three words to put in your pocket to remember when we might feel overwhelmed. I hope these gentle reminders will help in the classroom as well as at home. They are to stay encouraged, endure and embrace. The three E’s!
As parents and teachers, we need to let children talk and express themselves as the year begins. This depends on the age of the child. Something important for children is for their teachers and parents to make sure they are understood and heard. As teachers and parents, we have to be active listeners.
Your children may face difficult subjects this year; encourage your child to endure the challenges of a difficult subject. My difficult subject has always been math. My math teacher met with me when she saw a big wall of discouragement rising on my face daily. Her encouragement has stuck with me with the quote, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” She backed her words with action by working with me in small steps of understanding until I understood. It was a like a ladder of learning and encouragement. Her teaching and encouragement have helped me as a teacher all these years in helping young students when they feel discouraged with a difficult subject.
To embrace means to hold. Embracing our children means embracing everything about them, their good points and their imperfections. In embracing children during the learning process, we have to look at the process and effort that they have put into trying to learn and accomplish an assignment. We embrace the effort they have put forth rather than the outcome.
I hope these few general pointers help children, parents and teachers in this new school year.
Beth Pinyerd, Classroom Observer