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What teachers wish parents knew at the beginning of the year…

September 5, 2017 | Abby Liu

When my boys first started at MSS, I was very new to being a parent of a school-aged child. I didn’t know what I didn’t know.

It was incredibly helpful (and maybe the slightest bit embarrassing) to learn that I should NOT whisper pick up plans to the teacher in passing at the classroom door. That I should write notes, either on post-its, or via email. Honestly, it never would have occurred to me, but it completely made sense once I knew. I was thinking about one kid: mine. The teacher had a whole classroom of students to greet and assist with the morning transition.

What else do teachers wish that parents knew? I asked the faculty this week. Here’s what I discovered.


  • Teachers teach because they feel called. They care deeply about your child.
  • Teachers get nervous, too. Beginning of the year parent meetings, leading worship, and Welcome Back meetings sometimes make teacher nervous.
  • Send your child off to school with a phrase that is true about the child. Give it with confidence and a smile so that your child enters the day knowing that you feel good about them and the new teachers who will work with them this year.

Isabel, you are a builder and I am sure you will bless your new class with that ability.

John, you are so sensitive, I am sure that you will be able to help someone who needs a friend today.

Susan, you are so bold, you can use that today to respond to a question your teacher asks.

  • Make sure that clothing does not inhibit movement, both standing and sitting. Be cautious with skinny jeans. PK-3rd grade students spend a lot of time sitting “criss-cross” on the floor. It can be really hard to do in tight pants!

ON Screens

  • Children need to spend much less time on devices and screens, across the board, ages 3 to 14. They need other things to do and other ways to think. They need to talk to each other and adults.
  • Your children notice how much time you spend on your phone. Have times where you put it away and give them your undivided attention. (Teachers have heard students say they like school because the teachers aren’t looking at their phones.)
  • Check ratings and reviews for media. Common Sense Media ( is a great resource.

For the younger ones

  • preschoolIt’s normal for a child to take a while to warm up at school.  Teachers do not worry about a child who prefers to observe at the start of the year.
  • Teachers don’t believe everything young children say about what happens at home. They know young children have vivid imaginations.
  • Dress your child in elastic waisted, relaxed fit pants, or leggings. This gives them independence in the bathroom and freedom of movement in their play.
  • Invest in a raincoat with a hood and rain boots. Playing outside in the rain is reviving and exhilarating. Full of discoveries that can’t be made when it’s dry. Wet feet and head can make children feel rain is a hindrance.
  • Test zippers to see if they’re tricky or sticky.
  • Your children really will be OK!

More on pick-up

  • Submit your dismissal plan before the first day of school.
  • If your pick up plans change, let the office know asap. It’s very difficult to get a change to a teacher five or ten minutes before dismissal. The earlier you can let the office know, the better.
  • The last few minutes of class matter. It’s closing meeting, a time of reflection. For many, it’s a favorite time of the day.
  • Students worry when a teacher has a different pick up plan than what they expected.

On worship

  • Worship seems so seamless but it takes a lot of work. Musical teams plan and rehearse. Teachers and administrators research and practice. Consider topics and passages with deep thought. Collaborate over how the elements of worship can serve the developmental needs of children. You see a beautiful presentation. There’s a lot behind it!
  • You’re welcome at Middle School worship at 2:30 PM. No matter what your Middle School student may say.

on Sleep

  • Preschoolers need more sleep.
  • Adolescents need more sleep.

On music

  • Sing to your children. Singing simple tunes to your children is the foundation of a true musical education. Live music! Intimate! If you really don’t like your voice, whisper/chant. Keep it LIVE.

On Language Learning

  • Learning a new language takes time, patience, and hope.
  • Students who’ve never been in a foreign language class can get nervous about learning a new language. They may think, I’m not good with words.  But it’s not just okay to not know anything, it’s exactly right!
  • Anxiety about learning a language can be present at the start but it’s not necessarily a fixed emotion. There will be plenty of games, songs, acting and drawing.  They can expect lots multi-sensory instruction and kinesthetic instruction.
  • Students may not be aware that they are learning because language is acquired in the immersion classroom rather than “taught.” In many cases, an immersion classroom levels the playing field for diverse learners especially in the early stages when most of the experience is oral.
  • Parents and students can expect to be surprised by what seems like “suddenly” a child moves from absorbing the language to participating in it.


  • We’re all human. Mix-ups and mess-ups, forgotten items, and unclear pick-up plans absolutely WILL happen… even more than once! But a laugh and an understanding smile go a long way towards making things better.
  • When in doubt: ASK! No question is a bad question.
  • We’re so glad that your family is a part of our community!

Abby Liu

Former Director of Marketing and Communications

Abby Liu was the Director of Marketing and Communications from Sept. 2018-August 2021 and was an employee of Mustard Seed School for over 14 years. She’s the parent of two Mustard Seed School alumni. She's seen the impact of a Mustard Seed education from the early preschool days all the way up to eighth grade and beyond, and thoroughly enjoys sharing the Mustard Seed School story to this day.

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