motheringI sit here in this early morning hour, while my own four young children are asleep, savoring a large mug of coffee and a quiet start to my day. I often wake early to carve some moments of peace and solitude into my life that, for this kindergarten teacher and mother of four, are crucial for my well-being.

With the start of the new school year, my work at home and at school have been kicked into high gear. Each day is full of purpose, accomplishments, and its fair share of challenges.

I now have 18 more children trusted in my care each day. I am to teach these children to read, meet their needs and enrich their lives.

I also have the task of carving out quality time with my own children and husband, keeping up with the responsibilities of home, and making time for myself in efforts to stay balanced.

This life, of a teacher-mama, is one of unrelenting responsibility: a service of giving and care, with enduring purpose.

As we move forward into the school year ahead, I offer these quick thoughts to the parents of children who are sending their young ones off to teacher-mama led classrooms:

Be gentle on us: We're real people. We're here for your child, dedicating our professional life to helping your child grow, learn and be prepared for this big, wide world.

We worry, too: We have butterflies before that very first day of school, anxieties about sending our own children off to daycare and third grade -- and we worry how we'll get dinner on the table before the 3-year-old throws a fit.

We know the power of our words and actions, positive and negative: We pray for patience -- for the school day and at home. We strive each day to do our best, hoping the right words come to us in effort to inspire and connect with your children. We want them to love to learn, as we do.

We go home thinking of kids: We often leave work, feeling like we're carrying the weight of the day on our shoulders as we try to figure out how to meet the needs of the children we serve. This includes many aspects of their lives that are out of our control -- extending beyond the reach of the school day.

Know that every little thing you do for your child, for your neighbor's child or for that child across town -- even if it's just a genuine smile, an outreached hand -- can make a difference. It can be the simplest of habits that can change the quality of a person's day.

We're in this together: Remember to be a partner in your child's education. Ask and listen. Be consistent. Accept and offer feedback. Develop a home-to-school partnership of respect and trust. Together, we can have the greatest outcome.

Originally published in Minnesota Parent Magazine

Image Credit: Megan Devine