We all want to be as helpful as possible to the amazing men and women who educate our children. But if you are anything like me, you struggle with what is actually helpful. Aside from the obligatory school supplies and ever-present “wish list” at the end of the newsletter- what do teachers actually want from us as parents?
I went to the source on this one and flat out asked a few of them, that together have over 30 years of combined experience. They were more than happy to give us mamas a few suggestions. So aside from getting them there on time, well rested, and fed- what can we do?
10 Ways to Help Your Child’s Teacher This School Year
1. Return the forms ASAP.
- This includes permission slips, money, etc. While bookkeeping is not part of teaching, it needs to be done for things to run smoothly.
2. Send in materials when asked.
- If you can, send in extras for the families that can’t.
3. Celebrate your children!
- Let the teacher know when you see growth during the year. Teachers want to celebrate with you and see results from their hard work.
4. Realize that your child’s teacher is human.
- Laugh with them, bring them food to help get them through the day, give them grace. Find out specifically how they like to communicate- some teachers may check email all day while others prefer a note in a folder.
5. Don’t believe everything you hear.
- When your child comes home with a story of something that may or may not have happened at school, remember that it probably isn’t the whole story. (In my experience it’s always either 15% or 150% of what actually happened.)
6. Encourage independence in your child.
- Let them carry their own backpack or help pack their own lunch. Make them take responsibility for their homework and folders. Let’s teach our kids independence instead of a learned helplessness that benefits no one.
7. Let your child make mistakes.
- This helps them develop the social and emotional skills they will need as they become adults. The less they fear mistakes the more they will try to succeed.
8. Homework is not life or death.
- While only in first grade, both of my son’s teachers have emphasized this. Not happening tonight? Slap a sticky note on there and let their teacher know. (Disclaimer: This is from an elementary school perspective. I realize this may not apply to the mamas with kids further along in their education. I’ll enjoy it while I can.)
9. Be reachable, involved, and responsive.
- Volunteer, take a day off if possible and chaperone a field trip. This time goes by fast- be a part of it.
10. An occasional thank you note or small teacher treat goes a long way.
- Learn what they like- do they love coffee, or hate cooking? Small gifts or pick-me-ups can help them get through long days. One teacher remembers how a note with a McDonald’s sundae made her day. Being thoughtful does not have to be expensive.
Got babies heading off to Kindergarten?
Here are very specific (non-academic) skills teachers are begging you to teach your children before they show up on that first day. How to: hold a pencil, tie or secure their shoes on their feet, use velcro and zippers, and open lunch containers. These things allow the teachers to focus on teaching.
There is a partnership between you and your child’s teacher with the same end goal: nurturing the mind of your son or daughter. Let’s help them with this monumentally important task by taking care of the teachers who help us grow our babies into the beautiful human beings we know they were born to be.
We love our teachers and all they do. Celebrate your kiddos’ teacher and tell us what makes them so special in the comments section below.