Back to School Etiquette

Whether you are looking forward to or dreading the end of summer, you cannot escape the back to school call to action. You do not need to let the stress of supply lists, required reading, or post vacation laundry baskets get in the way of starting the new year off right. Here are some suggested rules of back to school etiquette to keep in mind and help to prepare your family for a great 2017-2018 school year.

For Parents:

1. Attend: When your school or a teacher hosts a Back to School or Open House kind of event, make it a priority to go. Not only are you likely to miss important news or procedural information if you skip, but you are also missing a great opportunity to show support for your child and the teacher. Absent or present, your attendance record sends a message. If you absolutely cannot make the event, send a message to your child’s teacher to acknowledge that you knew of it, apologize for missing, and asking if there is an alternative way that you may receive the information that was conveyed.

2. Find your own way to participate: Successful schools are those with the most support from parents. If you cannot offer to be room parent, field trip chaperone, or PTA president, you can surely join the PTA, offer to contribute treasure box items, or offer to be the go-to parent when the classroom is in need of sharpened number 2 pencils or Chlorox wipes. Bookmark your school’s calendar and make arrangements to attend all pertinent events you can.

3. Put it in writing: Teachers have a lot on their mind at any given moment. Do not assume that your piece of news, request, or information is so important the teacher cannot possibly forget your verbal message. If it is important, write a note or send an email.

4. Ensure your child is ready and prepared: Adjust summer bedtimes several days before the first day so your child is well rested on day one. Know your child’s plan for arrival, lunch, and dismissal. And ensure that your child has all required school supplies no later than the first day of school.

5. If you do not have something nice to say, say nothing at all: When classroom assignments are known, and another parent asks for your opinion on the teacher your child had last year, heed those words. Let that parent and child start their year with a blank slate so that they may have the opportunity for a better year than you feel you had. Unless of course you have wonderful experiences to share! Then by all means, sing some praises!

6. Introduce yourself: Make it a point to introduce yourself face to face to your child’s teacher. Shake her hand, use her proper title, look her in the eye, and provide your full name, your child’s name, and a few kind words of greeting. Do not use your first introduction to provide detailed child specific information or concerns. If you have important information that should be shared, let the teacher know that you will call, email, or request a conference to discuss what needs discussing.

7. Follow the rules: School procedures are written with the safety of ALL students in mind. While not taking a phone call in carpool line is an inconvenience for you, there are very sound safety reasons that policy was written and the rules do apply to you. Remember, too, that when your child sees you breaking the rules, he will begin to pick and choose which rules suit his taste as well.

For Students:

1. Introduce yourself: Walk into your classroom with your head high and confident, a smile on your face, and greet your new teacher. Shake her hand, look her in the eye, and say your full name clearly. Say a few positive words such as , “I’m excited to be in your class,” or “I hope you had a good summer.” If you prefer she call you by a name that differs from what is on your school records, make that clear upon first meeting.

2. Reach out to new faces: You will be excited to see your friends from last year, but remember to look for the new faces in your class. Offer those you don’t yet know a positive first impression with a warm smile and introduce yourself. Any one of the new faces may be your new BFF later if you get things off on the right foot.

3. Commit to organization and improved work habits: Think of this new school year as an opportunity to make some improvements in your habits. Your desk, locker, backpack and work space will be clean and organized. Commit to keeping it that way. Bring to school everything that is required but nothing extra that may clutter your spaces or provide distractions.

4. Consider your first impression: Choose an outfit that follows school dress code and also makes you feel happy and confident. Try it on before the first day to be sure it still fits, is clean, and then lay it out the night before.

5. Arrive on time: Know what time you may arrive in your classroom and plan your morning backwards from that time. Get to bed early that you may awake well rested with plenty of time to dress, brush your teeth and hair, eat a good breakfast, do any family chores such as bed making or dog walking, and still allow plenty of time to get to school without feeling rushed or stressed. You miss the opportunity to begin your school day fully informed and ready to learn when you walk in after everyone else.

6. Demonstrate respect: Follow the rules, listen to your teachers and classmates, and respect each and every person you encounter at school. Custodians, cafeteria workers, students in other classes, and substitute teachers all deserve your respect. You may not be friends with all of your classmates, but you do owe each of them your respect. Your words and the tone you use to deliver them should reflect this.

7. Give it your all: School may or may not be your favorite thing, but it is a significant part of your life. Make the most of this opportunity to learn and try new things. Do the very best you can in everything you can. Persevere through the tough stuff, seek help when you need it, and find something good in each day.

To all teachers, students, and parents, may this be your best year yet!