Guest Blogger-Haley O'Connor -

After researching for a speaking engagement at the Michigan Reading Association this year, I wanted to give readers advice on how they can help prepare their children for school. There are simple things that can be done at home that will make your child’s school experience a more positive one. I’ve asked teacher bloggers to be guests on this site, Be The Difference, to share their insights with you over the next 6 weeks! I am so thankful for their expertise.

Hi friends! My name is Haley O’Connor, and I’m so excited to be here on Maria’s blog today. I have been a huge fan for a long time, and read Spaghetti in a Hot Dog Bun and The Juice Box Bully every year to my first graders! I live in Dallas, and have been teaching for 6 years. I blog over at My Silly Firsties and am so blessed to do what I love each and every day.

Maria reached out a few months ago, and I jumped at the chance to share some tips with her audience! As a teacher, I am constantly working with parents to support their kiddos. I tried to think of the top 5 things I wish all parents knew before their child entered my classroom. These are things I continue to share with them at parent conferences and curriculum nights, and I hope they are helpful to you!
I know that most parents know the importance of reading with their kiddo. From the time they are babies, our little ones spend time on our laps listening to books. When they get a little older, it’s so exciting to watch them dive into books and we hope they will become lifelong readers. There a few definitions I wanted to share with you that will help in understanding what your kiddos’ teacher is saying.
You can click the image to grab a copy for free!
One of the most important things you can do for your kiddo is TALK about books. It’s so important that your students work on their comprehension as much as they do their fluency and decoding. When our kiddos start reading, our first reaction is “oh my goodness! Look at the words they read!” But if they can’t discuss the book, make inferences about it, and retell it, they are not getting as much from reading as they could be! 🙂
In every subject, one of the most powerful ways you can help your child is connecting their learning to real life. If they are studying addition in math, show them how you are adding up the items in your recipe. If they are studying landforms, point them out as you pass by them on a family drive. Everything they learn in the classroom has a “real life connection” and your child’s teacher is probably working really hard to help them see that. You can make such a difference by pointing out the connections in their real life. If you aren’t sure what your kiddo is studying, as them specifically “what did you practice in math” or “what book did you read today?” Asking “what did you do in school today” leaves a lot of room for them to say they don’t know. 🙂
I don’t have any kiddos yet, but I have a baby brother in first grade. He has been blessed with an AMAZING teacher, and I truly don’t have a single complaint. But I know that in all likelihood, I won’t agree with every decision each of his teachers makes during his school career. I’m sure that parents in my class don’t always agree with the decisions I make, and that is OKAY! It’s even okay to speak with the teacher about it…you truly know your child best and you are their advocate! BUT…talking positively about their teacher to (and around) your kiddo will help them SOO much. If your child hears you say negative things about their teacher, it could affect their relationship and I believe the teacher-student relationship is incredibly precious and important to success.
Disclaimer…it’s important that your child feels safe expressing concerns to you about their teacher. It’s even okay to say “oh, I’m so sorry that happened. Even grown ups make mistakes…I make mistakes all the time.” We just want to make sure we aren’t undermining the teacher’s authority or relationship with your child. 🙂
One thing my team talks about is teaching our students how to be problem solvers. Of course this applies academically…solving new words in books, solving math problems, etc. But it also plays a huge role in their success in the classroom and school community. So often, our kiddos come to us to fix every litlte problem. Of course we want to help them…but they will be MUCH more successful in school if they know how to try to solve their own problems. An example would be “I don’t have a place to sit.” Teach your kiddo to look around the room for possible solutions before asking for help. Their teacher will thank you for it and your child will be more confident and self-assured! 🙂 One simple way is modeling for them. When you have a problem, talk through the possible solutions and how you will decide on one. 🙂
Finally, being part of a classroom community is hard! Not only are your kiddos learning so much academically, they are learning how to be part of a society with people who are different than them. They are learning how to say sorry, accept apologies, make new friends, and more! I think it’s just as important to praise them for being kind as it is to praise them for academic success. Being kind will truly get them so much farther than not! 🙂
I hope these tips are helpful to you, and I’d love to hear what other ideas you have! I’m so appreciative to Maria for letting me stop by and share these tips!