We all know the value of making a good first impression, from job interviews to first dates. But too often we overlook the importance of first impressions at school. As the first days of school approach, take the time to prepare your child to start strong and stay strong in the classroom.
According to Kathy Sypnier, a 20-year veteran of the classroom, making a good first impression on teachers is key. "It's important because, generally speaking, if you make a bad impression, it takes a long time to get past that." Teachers are on the lookout for trouble-makers from day one, and they quickly form an idea of who needs a close watch. But don't fret about your child's every move at school – the key is simply to make a successful entrance. Here are a few ways to get a passing grade on the first day:
Make sure your child has the supplies she needs on the first day of school. It sends a message that you and your child are committed to keeping up in school. "Usually kids get a list from the school, and if they have those supplies, it is a good indicator they are ready to learn and that parents are serious about education," says Sypnier.
Meet the Teacher
Rita Tederous, an experienced primary school teacher, encourages parents to bring supplies in early, saying it’s a great opportunity for teachers to meet parents and children before the school year begins. "I like it when the parents and children come in and meet me. The children get to see the room, try out the desks and get excited about school." This also gives her a chance to size up students’ readiness for school in a casual environment.
It may sound superficial, but having the right clothing can make a good impression. "Your child doesn’t have to be a fashion guru," says Sypnier. But people tend to feel and act differently in different types of clothing. She explains, "If a child comes in wearing the clothing he slept in, he’s going to act like he’s in his pajamas." Showing up in age-appropriate, modest clothing sends the message to teachers that the child is prepared to learn, and not to play basketball or attend a party.
Especially for younger children, school can be overwhelming with new experiences and situations. To help ease into the new school year try:
- Role-playing new challenges like purchasing lunch, asking for permission and working out problems with classmates
- Letting children help pick colors and styles of school supplies
- Setting reasonable and consistent bedtimes starting the week before school begins
- Eating breakfast and make sure a nutritious lunch is either packed or purchased
Don’t worry too much if your child is still nervous: teachers understand that first-day jitters can interfere with impressions. Tederous points out that "What’s going to shine through eventually is what parents have taught them from birth – manners, listening, getting along with others and how to handle conflicts."