Photo by Chung Chow
Newly-retired teacher Dawna Kishi has some suggestions for parents to help their children in school.
Start time: Be early, not just on time and certainly not late.
“It’s stressful for the kids if they are late all the time. They feel bad because everyone turns to look at them. For their own sake, it’s important that they’re there before school starts.”
Being early allows students time to get their coats off, visit with their friends, “and to shake out all their wiggles,” Kishi says.
Sleep: Experts say children need at least 11 hours each night. Otherwise, Kishi says, “You can get kids who are falling asleep they’re so tired in class. Or they act out.”
Some students’ lack of sleep shows up as agitation in class.
Healthy breakfasts: “Definitely, getting some food into you is important.” Kishi mentions a student: “He would act out. If he put some good stuff into his body, sure enough, he was a more manageable, happy boy and easier to deal with all around.”
Lunch: It doesn’t have to be hot. “Good old sandwiches are great.” But, Kishi cautions, avoid unhealthy fast food.
No means no: Do students need to respect that?
“Of course.” says Kishi, “In most cases the ‘no’ is not a mean thing. It’s because we can’t do that now.”
Clothing: Kishi suggests the Canadian custom of hand-me-downs to save money and the environment. She also suggests donating clean clothing to the teacher, in case of accidents with water, mud or worse, “We usually have something in a cupboard for kids who get stuck in the middle of the day.”
School supplies: In Richmond, elementary parents pay a one-time fee so the schools buy in bulk. “Please don’t buy anything until after a week at least,” she says.
Homework: Kishi says if parents help their child learn, that’s great but, if parents or someone else does the homework, teachers can tell.
Parents in the school: It’s good for students when parent join the Parents’ Advisory Committee (PAC). It’s also a great place to meet other parents who can act as much-welcomed translators for parent-teacher discussions.
Respect for learning: At one school parents were so noisy they were all banned from the school.Kishi says, “It can be distracting. It’s not a social setting really.” She suggests parents visit quietly outside, in the covered area.
Talking to the teacher: Kishi encourages parents to walk their young children into the school. While it’s great to say hi in the morning or when you pick your child up. “It’s not the time to discuss your child’s progress.”Kishi suggests, If you make an appointment, you can bring a translator. You can really ask how your child is doing and how you can help. After all, Kishi says, “We’re a team.”