Get Psyched Friday: Adjusting to a New Teacher
Friday, September 7, 2012
It's time for another edition of Get Psyched Friday, from child psychologist Eleanor Mackey, PhD.
Now that kids are back in school and over their initial nerves, now is the time other issues often arise that parents and kids must navigate. In our house, it is the adjustment to a new teacher. Over a school year, kids become very bonded to their teachers or at least get used to a certain way of doing things. That comfort in routine and expectations is important for a child.
We are lucky that L’s teachers last year were remarkable and the teachers she was assigned for the next year are equally amazing. As confident as we are, however, L has to learn this for herself. Other families aren’t as lucky and have to adjust to teachers who aren’t a great match for their children. This week’s post is about how to help children adjust to new teachers.
How do you help kids get comfortable with their new teacher?
- Ask your child what’s new about their classroom this year.
- Help your child list good things about changes (for example, making them feel special to be a “big kid” if they have new responsibilities).
- Encourage your child to talk to his teacher to begin to get to know him together.
- If you have younger children, have him draw a picture for the teacher and help him write down a few things about himself he’d like his new teacher to know.
- Instead of minimizing or dismissing your child’s concern (“Oh, don’t worry about it!”), ask, “do you want to talk about it?” Listen to what she has to say.
If you have concerns about a teacher or a match between a new teacher and your child’s needs, you can still do the things above with your child to help them get comfortable. However, you can also be an advocate for your child.
- Make an appointment with the teacher and give her information about your child you think might be helpful while trying to respect her individual teaching style.
- You can try to increase communication by asking to implement “school-home notes” where the teacher can rate a few areas of concern each day (for example, child stayed in seat, child paid attention, child did work independently). You can then reward good behavior at school to help your child succeed.
What do you remember about your own teachers in school? Was there a time you worried you might not like a teacher and then that teacher turned out to be very important to you? Share these stories with your kids!
About the Expert
Eleanor Mackey, PhD, is a child psychologist and works primarily with the Obesity Institute and Children’s Research Institute. Dr. Mackey is also a mother of two young girls. She has been at Children’s National since 2006 and has been a regular contributor to our “Get Psyched Friday” features since 2012.