The Teacher is Talking: Special Back-to-School Series

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By Leslie Lindsay

Will it be the Benetton sweatshirt or the Hyper-color tee for the first day?  Tight-rolled or bootcut?  Acid-washed, or ripped?  Zippers on the ankles?  Oh wait–this isn’t the 1980s anymore!  Fast-forward several years and now you’re getting your children ready for the first day of school.  Times have changed, or have they?

Just this past weekend, we ran into my daughter’s former 1st grade teacher at the ballpark.  Her first question, “Are you ready for the first day of school?  Do you have a first-day outfit all ready to go?”  My daughter did a polite eye-roll and then looked to me for direction.  Yes, of course we do! 

Making a good first impression is vital to kids at school–and perhaps for adults too (think first dates, first day at the new job, etc.).  In fact a novel I just read, Jeanette Walls’s THE SILVER STAR, sisters Bean and Liz have a similar discussion about what to wear on the first day of a new Virginia High School:

“…Liz kept saying it was important to make a good first impression at a new school…You need to make a statement.” 

And so they did, however they chose the “wrong” thing and were chastisted for it…but their uncle had other plans…

“On the first day of school, we each put on one really striking outfit, and even though there was a bus stop within walking distance of Mayfield, Uncle Tinsley drove us to Byler High in the Woody. He also believed in making a good first impression.” Product Details

So, how do you talk with your kids about making a good first impression, and how important is that anyway?

  • Emphasize that it’s important to come across as interested, eager, and clean. 
  • Brush your hair, teeth, wear clothing that is clean, matches, and is tucked in  &/or ironed (if appropriate).  It’s one of the hard truths of life that one is often judged by first impressions.  You’ll want it to be a good one.
  • Role play with your child.  Say, “What would happen if mom/dad went on a job interview without showering first or brushing teeth?”
  • Be prepared.  Have school supplies ready to go and labled.  If you don’t have them, your teachers may think your’re unprepared, uninterested, and may think you’ll be this way for the entire school year.
  • Smile.  It’s almost impossible for someone not to smile back.  Smiles are contagious.  It helps you look friendly, approachable, and relaxed–even if you’re not.
  • Be friendly and not shy. You may be naturally more resevered, but try to make an effort to come out of your shell.
  • But be yourself.  Making a good first impression is putting your best face forward.  It’s not being fake.  There’s a difference.
  • Be prompt.  No one likes to wait around.  And you don’t want to get the reputation that you’re never on time or not prepared.
  • Avoid whispering or talking about someone behind their back.  This includes your teacher(s).  Just nod and be polite. 
  • Be helpful.  If you see another student or teacher who looks like they could use a little help, offer!  It’s a stressful day for all (teachers included), you’ll want to come across as being someone who is there when times are rocky.  It will make that person’s day. 

And remember, teacher’s are scared, too!  They want you  to like them, have fun in their classroom(s) and have a good first day as well.  So, make it that way!!  It’s up to you.

Class dismissed!  (image source: calumhenderson.com retrieved on 8.13.13)

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