On the first day of Kindergarten, our school has a little tissue tea for new parents where they can eat refreshments, cry a bit, write a letter to their child and meet other parents. The principal tells parents the same thing every year: “We promise to believe only half of what your student tells us happens at home, if you promise to believe only half of what they tell you happens at school.” Here are 8 other things that your child’s teacher would like you to know:
1) Learning is a process, not a letter. The teachers I’ve talked to say they wish parents would realize that one bad grade doesn’t mean that their student is failing. Sometimes the particular assignment is challenging, or maybe they just had a bad day. Your child’s teacher isn’t ignoring the grade; they will address it as needed. But a child’s low score on a pop quiz isn’t a reason to call your local tutoring center, either.
2) Grades are not a negotiation. If you are concerned about a grade, set up a meeting and talk with the teacher, but don’t expect to “negotiate” a new grade. Be proactive in getting ideas on how to help your child and be willing to schedule time for tutoring or working with them.
3) Accountability is a valuable lesson. Don’t save your kid at every turn! If they continue to forget their homework and you keep bringing it to them, they aren’t learning anything. Teachers need parents’ help in teaching the kids responsibility and accountability.
4) Homework is not a test. It is practice. Let your child make some mistakes! Teachers said they do want parents to participate in homework and know what their child is doing, but don’t help too much. If they don’t look over their work or write complete sentences, let them learn through consequences.
5) Procrastination on your part does not constitute an emergency for the teachers. Stay on top of things. Don’t wait until the end of the year, when it is too late, to do anything to show concern over your child’s grades, reading level, or social issues at school.
6) Communication is a two-way street. Teachers really aren’t out to get your child. It is possible that they simply have no idea your student is being bullied or sad during lunch. Go to the teacher first with an open mind. Ask for suggestions and let them know what is going on. Going over their head to the principal first will only result in the principal asking if you have talked to the teacher.
7) Keep a routine (and an early bedtime). Kids definitely have a harder time learning when they are tired, and their grades will reflect this. Plus, they are less likely to follow directions and get along with their peers.
8) Be involved. This was something all teachers mentioned. Know what is happening in the classroom, in the school, with homework and with your child. No one is saying that you need to serve as PTO president, but talking with your child and coming to community nights — or even just volunteering 20 minutes a month in the classroom — can go a long way.
Are you a teacher? What do you want parents to know? Or if you are a parent, what would you like to say to teachers?
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Vicki Little is a work-at-home mom with two young kids. A Colorado native, she is the Publisher and Editor of Macaroni Kid Aurora and Downtown Denver. When she isn’t writing or trying to keep up with her kids she can be found volunteering, reading, or enjoying a bottle of wine with friends.