Lamar Kanafani, the island’s first, and so far only, licensed marriage and family therapist, writes for WTM on the issues that concern mums.
What you need to know before the new school year begins…
With the beginning of the new school year approaching, parents and children alike begin to wonder about various issues related to how well children will adjust and settle into their new classrooms. Issues like who their teachers will be, what will they be like, who their classmates are, what will their friends be like towards each other inside the classroom and out on the playground, what will be the academic and extracurricular expectations of the child, and so on. Many parents have these concerns; however, few take what I consider to be necessary measures to help both the teacher and child(ren) launch the new school year to a strong start. And consequently, help themselves, as parents, to feel more comfortable and, to some degree, reassured.
As basic as it sounds, making a conscious decision to form a working relationship or ‘partnership’ with your child’s teacher right from the beginning of the school year is central to setting the stage for your child’s ongoing experiences, both in the classroom and otherwise. It is more common for parents to wait until a problem arises or for the first parent-teacher meetings to have a formal introduction. These situations usually occur somewhere close to the middle or end of the first term. At this point, it is quite late to have that primary discussion regarding your child. By that time, the teacher has already formulated his/her own set of opinions about him/her, largely based on what has already been written down in their official school records and their own limited personal experience. Furthermore, they have already established a unique relationship that is more likely to go unchanged for the remainder of the school year if parental involvement continues to be minimal.
Forming a close partnership with your child’s teacher will help all involved. The teacher will gain more insight into your child than with the limited time available during class.
It is an opportunity for you to give the teacher a heads-up on your concerns and what you see as your child’s strengths and areas for improvement, not only academically but, more importantly, socially and characteristically. It is also important to let the teacher know of any familial circumstances (historically existing and/or ongoing) that you feel might interfere with the child’s academic, behavioural or social performances. These areas are all heavily connected. If your child struggles socially or is/has experienced loss of a family member, for instance, it is likely to affect their academic performance. So the more the teacher learns about your child, especially at an early stage, the better he/she can teach your child, cater to their needs and interests and develop a more personalised approach to your child’s instruction.
Working with your child’s teacher also helps highly intuitive mothers gain a better understanding and feel for who your child will be spending the rest of the school year with. It will allow you to let them know what their new teacher appreciates from them and what the educational objectives are. It will also help you guide them when facing any difficulties or road bumps with their teachers. Teachers too have personal lives and everything that comes with it; and so therefore, they too have bad days that may trickle into their performance in the classroom. Children are inclined to internalise and consequently may need support in coping, making sense of these moments and separating their teacher’s issues from themselves.
The benefits to your child are many when you make the effort to form a relationship with their teacher from the get-go. Your children will learn that they too can approach their teachers with issues not limited to academics. Your child will also feel supported knowing that the important people in their lives are working together to help them succeed. And, in turn, they will be more motivated to be open with you about their daily experiences and to grow in their behavioural and academic progress. It also fosters mutual respect amongst the three of you; and so practically, this seemingly two-person alliance is to all intents and purposes a triangular working relationship. Taking these preventive measures helps minimise future problems and aids in management of any existing ones.
Contact Lamar on 36 009-665 or email firstname.lastname@example.org