Tuesday, July 27, 2021
I wanted to write this post because the time is nigh! We had varying degrees of “normal” school over the past year and a bit. So, it may have been quite a while since you have thought about stuff like this. Last year was all about survival. Many schools didn’t allow parents in the building. Everything was different!
My perspective comes from 27 years as a high school Spanish teacher and 13 years as a k-12 mom.
-Don’t complain about your school, teachers, or school or district policy in front of your child. I have been frustrated looking for a certain color folder or I have wondered why my child needed 24 pre-sharpened pencils, too. It’s stressful. Think the thoughts, but don’t say them in front of your kid. It’s important for us to stay positive and model respect for school and teacher rules. This is small potatoes in elementary school, but it becomes large potatoes in high school. If you complain about the high school dress code or act like it’s not important, that carries over into other rules that your child will have to follow.
-Any time the school opens its doors to parents, go! It amazes me how few parents come to our open house. What a unique opportunity to get to meet all of your big kids’ teachers and essentially walk their schedule and live their day. Your presence is just as important in high school, and maybe even more as your high school kids tend to communicate less.
-Get the school calendar now, mark dates, and don’t plan trips during school. Pulling your kid out makes it hard for kids to keep up and honestly, it sends the wrong message. Of course, there are always exceptions – weddings, funerals, and a few other events. I can’t tell you how many of my students complain about their parents making them miss school. I ask that my students email me if they must be absent – preferably before our class meets so that I can help keep them on track. This also adds a layer of accountability and maybe, just maybe this improves attendance. Picture this – we have a 7 period day. Your kid misses one day and has 7 assignments to make up. That can be overwhelming.
-Don’t bombard the teacher at open house. Send an email if there is important information about your child. The teacher may have to give multiple presentations. At my school the teachers have taught all day and come back to school that night for the event. He/She will not remember the details because they will be so exhausted!
-Let your child start doing the emails to the teachers when age appropriate. “Hi Mrs. Jones, I just wanted to let you know that I am home sick today. I will talk to my classmate about what I missed, but feel free to send me anything I need if you have time. I hope to be back tomorrow. Thank you so much, Student.”
-I always tell my students to have a “phone a friend” in each class. As a parent, it would be good to encourage this. Pick one student that usually knows what’s going on and ask for their number. Most kids are happy to help a classmate. It would be great if this was a reciprocal relationship and they can both help each other when absent.
-Do not be afraid to email the teacher! This is really the easiest way for us to communicate. We just don’t have much time for phone calls and rarely have an empty room to have a private conversation.
-Go to the parent teacher conferences. We want to be partners with our parents. Meeting the parents can really help us to better serve our students.
-If there is a problem, try to fix it with the teacher first. I have heard stories of parents taking the smallest complaints to the principal without talking to the teacher first. Most teachers enter the profession because they care about kids. I have heard parents talk like a teacher is “out to get” their kid.
-Please don’t treat your child’s teacher like “the help”. I have heard one parent complain about a teacher and say “I mean, I pay her salary; she should do what I ask”. The teachers in your school have a great deal of education. I have a bachelor’s degree and two Master’s degrees. Plus, think of all the experience and on-the-job training they have. This is so disrespectful. These same parents probably say, “I could never do their job”.
-Do not always believe your child, as bad as that sounds. I have seen some parents not even listen to the teacher’s account of what happened. Where did the notion come from that a parent must always side with their child? There is right and wrong and sometimes your kid will be wrong! Wouldn’t you rather your child be wrong at age 8 than age 18?
-Do not stress about gifts for teachers. Sure it is a nice gesture, but I always worry about the kids who can’t afford gifts feeling badly. An email, a card in my mailbox, or a note sent with a student (even better when it is written by the student) means so much to me. I have every single one saved. I even have some of the emails printed out, but sadly, I didn’t do this with all of them. If your child loves a particular lesson, send an email saying how much they talked about it over dinner. This makes our day!
-YOU are your child’s first and most important teacher. They model your behavior, your speech, your tone, your attitude, and your etiquette. They watch you read for pleasure. They notice if you have a spirit of curiosity and if you are a life long learner. They notice how you treat your job or profession if you work outside the home. Take them to museums, historical landmarks, events, and festivals – but don’t go crazy. Don’t try to do it all in one weekend!
-Please stop overscheduling your child. They need time to play and be at home. They need time to do homework. I’m not a big fan of homework and I don’t believe that tons of it equals more learning. But, homework is still a thing to be dealt with.
That’s all I’ve got for now! Anything I’m forgetting?