The Elementary School Teacher’s Guide to Effective Parenting

Now that I have been retired from teaching in elementary school for some time, I believe it is now safe, er, incumbent upon me to share some of the wisdom I have gathered over the years.

Reading TeacherA retired teacher.  Note the smile and serenity.

Even the most experienced parents of elementary school children may find something new and inspiring herein. Read and learn.           

1. Health

You have finally reached that monumental milestone – your youngest child is now in school, full time. You are now free – to work, to hit the gym, to catch up on all the soaps – without interference. So what if your child wakes up with a leaky nose, hacking cough and a slight greenish tinge when contemplating food. Send him anyway!

You'll be fineYou’ll feel better once you get there…

They have school nurses, don’t they? And what about that box of tissues that you have to send in at the beginning of EVERY year, for every kid you have? Don’t want those to go to waste.

When supplying that emergency contact number for the nurse to call in case your child is heaving or has a fever – be sure to transpose two digits. If it’s really serious, they’ll keep at it till they find you, somehow. Otherwise, your child can just as easily barf into the nurse’s plastic lined trash can.

Kid vomiting

And you thought those receptacles were for trash!

And don’t forget the most important reason to send your child to school, even though some heinous ailment may be wracking his tiny body – the all important “perfect attendance” award. This is the one to shoot for, and your child has to be there to get it.

2. Hygiene

For those of you relatively new to the public school system, hygiene doesn’t refer to those mornings when Mom is busy and Daddy gets to pick out your daughter’s outfit. No, hygiene is more than stripes and plaids and mismatched socks.  It’s important, so we will address it early on.

For younger students, the rules of hygiene are simple: there aren’t any. It’s often useful to refer back to the stains on your child’s clothing to remind you which night you served spaghetti for dinner or which day the dog puked in the den. Be sure to insist on long sleeved shirts or sweatshirts regardless of the weather; those sleeves are so useful for fielding sneezes and mopping up nose drool. Besides, everyone knows little kids spill things and get dirty outside, so why strain your laundry budget? It’s also not a bad idea to limit baths and showers: that way, those temporary tattoos can continue to provide enjoyment for weeks on end.

With older children, the hygiene issue is a bit dicier. With the older ones, clothes are no longer the sole issue. It’s what’s underneath the clothes that is of concern.

basketballA room full of 5th graders after Gym can be…challenging.

In essence, they have embarked on the road to becoming young men and women, and, as such, have started to stink. BO has reared its ugly head, but the important thing for you to remember as parents is that at this stage of their lives, the children are blissfully unaware of it. (At least as it pertains to their own self – they are very aware of it in others and usually feel the need to comment on it loudly) Because they are unaware, you as parents can ignore it for a few more years. They are too old to be personally bathed by a parent, and surely too young for deodorant. So why bother?

3. Clothing

What your child wears to school is really irrelevant. Don’t waste your valuable time agonizing over air temperature, cleanliness, or age appropriateness. If your child finds himself too warm or too chilly in class, not to worry. It’s the school’s responsibility to either adjust the building’s temperature for your child’s particular comfort, or have available attractive clothing in your child’s size should the temperature adjustment fail.

ShiverNo, that’s too big! And it doesn’t go with purple!

This, of course, also applies to appropriate clothing for playing outside at recess. One lightweight jacket should suffice for the whole school year. Hats, mittens, heavy coats – surely the school can provide them for every child on an as needed basis.

Parents of little girls, take note. It’s never too early to start your daughter on revealing clothing. Skin tight low cut pants, cropped shirts, tank tops in any and all weathers – it’s what they are conditioned to want practically from birth, so by all means encourage that early fashion sense.

Fashion SenseIt’s never too early to be a slave to fashion.

So what if belly buttons, baby butt cracks and, in the 4th & 5th graders, a blossoming nipple or two, are revealed. They’re still babies. Don’t be prurient.

4. Snacks

At least in the primary grades, you’ve probably gotten that letter from your child’s teacher requesting that they send in HEALTHY snacks for the daily snack time. Who is she kidding? If you send in something like celery or broccoli,  you just know it won’t be eaten,

carrot broccoliOh, c’mon – you didn’t really think your kid would eat us, did you??

so by the time you notice it at the bottom of your child’s book bag during your monthly book bag check it’s turned into a nasty brownish green slime that you don’t want to just toss in case it’s a science project or something.

You want to  send in a snack that you can be sure will be completely eaten, so go for the sugar and salt. Chocolate is always a plus, because its remnants always so charmingly coat your child’s face, fingers, and everything else within reach. And of course the sugar provides that much needed energy boost for your hyperactive first grader.

CookiesIs this all? Wait, I’m not done yet!

Salty snacks are also beneficial. They can be so easily shared with little friends, who also willingly share whatever else is on their  sneezed upon little hands. Also, salty snacks when dropped on the floor provide such a satisfying crunch when stepped upon, always a comfort to both teacher and custodian.

In the next post, I will cover the more academic aspects of effectively parenting an elementary school child. Should you wish to attack  er, contact me for any reason, you can’t. Because I’m retired.

About Elizabeth R

I have retired from being a mom of 2 little boys (though never from being their mom) and a teacher of multitudes of little people. Now I have lots of time (but somehow, not enough - why is that?) to shamelessly wallow in my previously underutilized passions - reading, writing, and Anglophilia. And somehow, a new interest has insidiously crept in - Crossfit. Crossfit is a wonderfully all-encompassing system of physical fitness allowing me to blame all my numerous aches and pains on it rather than old age. I like it very much, but then I have always been a little odd.
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