Well, we’re well and truly on the home run now! Five precious days, and this long term will be over. For those of us whose kids began school in September, this term will have been significant. There will have been huge leaps forward, perhaps some setbacks, new things learnt (for them and for us), and a whole lot of fun. But it’s not over until the fat lady sings (or whichever kid has a solo in the Nativity this year), so here are a few ways we can support and bless our kids’ teachers in this final week before Christmas:
1) Thank them. Obvious, I hope, but for a longer explanation read this. Some parents like to buy chocolates or wine for their kids’ teachers – and, if you have the resources to do so, this is great – but I would argue that a few thoughtful words in a card mean more. Be specific – think about exactly what it is that you’ve appreciated about them this term (even if it sounds silly – at least it will sound genuine). And write it in a card if you can, as opposed to just saying it – that way, the teacher will have a lasting record of your comments, and you won’t be rushing the sentiment, tripping over your words as you catch the teacher in a brief few seconds between them handing you half a ton of your child’s artwork and running to catch another child who’s about to fall off the climbing frame.
2) Thank the headteacher. Unless there are serious issues and you’re considering moving your child to a different school, there should be a couple of lines you can type into an email to school, for the attention of the head, expressing how happy you are with the school, the Early Years unit, the way your child has settled in, the overall ethos, or whatever it is you’ve particularly appreciated this term. If you mention your child’s teacher by name, that will be a great boost to them! (Often heads pass on this kind of praise to staff – even if they don’t, they’ll remember it next time a promotion or other opportunity arises.)
3) Compliment the Nativity play, even if it was totally awful, cringeworthy and tuneless – although, more than likely, it probably spelled C-U-T-E from start to finish, and you were totally spellbound by how Other Adults managed to manoeuvre not only one but 30+ largely uncoordinated little people into their various singing/reading/acting roles. Say so! This has probably taken a huge amount of work and stress to put together. Make sure they know they’ve done a good job!
4) Keep your child focussed. It may be the last week of term, with all manner of fun activities each day, but your child still needs to be “in school, on time, in uniform” (as the children at my son’s school have learned to chant) ready to engage with whatever is planned for that day. Especially with young children, try to avoid late nights, too many after-school activities and too much sugar this week. Come Friday, there’ll be two whole weeks of indulgence, so leave it till then. Oh, and try not to over-excite your children by doing something significant like giving them a new baby brother in the middle of the week. (That was an in-joke – you know who you are…!)
5) Tell your child’s teacher to have a rest. Teachers are notorious workaholics. OK, so you telling them to take a break won’t necessarily mean they do it – but enough people say it to them, you never know: they might just take some notice. My first boss always told us teachers to have a good rest over the holidays – and it had an impact on me (still does now). Jan/Feb are often the worst times for staff sickness (a long Autumn term, followed by two weeks of not-much-rest over Christmas), and this will have a knock-on effect for our children. Our teachers’ physical and mental health needs to be a concern for us parents. So, whether spoken or written, encourage your child’s teacher to have some proper time off this Christmas!