Every school year has its highs and lows. It’s completely normal for students, parents or teachers to feel excited one day and ready for summer break the next. Having a good foundation can help bring enthusiasm and dedication and help students stay on track. There are simple ways to support teachers and, ultimately, support your child.
Here are four things that teachers actually want from parents (besides boxes of Kleenex…we can never have too many of those).
Related: 5 ways parents can partner with teachers throughout the school year
4 simple ways parents can support teachers
1. Same team mindset
Plain and simple, we both want what is best for your child. Teachers do not get into education because they cannot stand kids and want to see them fail (I’ve never met a Ms.Trunchbull- like educator in over 12 years of teaching). Providing a united front helps students feel secure and accountable. When parent-teacher relations are strained or communication gets accusatory, nobody feels right. Let’s work together with the goal of a happy student in mind. I’ll back up the good stuff I know you are teaching at home, and I’ll need your support to keep students engaged and taking their schooling journey seriously. As a teacher and parent, I know I must trust that my kids’ educators are doing what they can and if I have a question,comment or concern I know I can speak up to open ears. That is how a healthy relationship works!
2. Read, read and read at home
Like many teachers, the homework I assign is a combination of review from old material and built from lessons taught in class. I have had parents over the years ask for more literacy homework, and the truth is I don’t have the time to create a fancy additional package to go home. Reading IS the homework. Always. Creating a household where reading is expected and respected is incredibly important. Ask your child about their current book, take them to the library and have them see YOU reading! For my two children (ages 6 and 4) daily reading is a non-negotiable habit. Storytime before bed is my favorite, and my kids have the option of reading in bed to wind down after lights out. Practice what you preach, right?!
Related: Thank you for taking care of my firstborn, sweet teacher
3. Consideration for time
This year, I have 25 students in my class, and I feel lucky! Other years have brought closer to 35 students into my room, and it doesn’t take a genius to figure out smaller class sizes are better for everyone. We have dwindling Educational Assistant support, yet students’ special needs are growing. Teachers everywhere are finding bits of time throughout the day to ensure your child feels seen and heard. Please don’t ask us to work through breaks. We need to eat and breathe and take a moment to regroup (not to mention run extracurriculars!). Setting up simple routines at home helps us manage time better at school as well. Students who come prepared with their agenda, supplies and hopefully a good night’s sleep are ready to get down to work quicker and stay on task.
4. Gentle communication
More times than I can count, a simple parent email has brought tears to my eyes (in a good way!). A quick thank you goes a long way in supporting our big ol’ teacher hearts. Likewise, I have made it my mission to send home more positive notes and start a weekly Happy Mail program where students call each other out for having great character. It’s also important to keep in mind that sometimes no news is good news. There aren’t enough hours in the day to provide personal daily feedback, so it’s safe to say if there isn’t a pressing issue it’s been a “business as usual” kind of day. At home, talking about the school day is a great habit to start early. Instead of “How was your day?,” try more specific questions such as “What was one thing you wrote down today?,” “What was a tricky part of your day?” and “How did you help someone today?.” Getting more information from your child can help ease an anxious parent’s mind.
As we move through the school year, I want to give parents a big hug. You are truly your child’s first and most important teacher.
Related: Dear teachers: You are my hero