Parents pull up a chair and check out the 7 things teachers wish we knew in order to help our kids do their very best at school!
1. Don’t be a stranger!
Talk to your child’s teacher early and often. Back-to-school night shouldn’t be the only time you connect, says Tracy Weinberg, associate director of the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented in Austin and a former junior high school teacher. Take a moment to introduce yourself to your child’s instructor at the school’s open house — and find out the best way to contact her in the future. Then stay in touch with updates on how things are going at home (let her know, for example, if there’s been a death in the family), questions about your child and his work (are his assignments taking too long?), or to schedule conferences to head off trouble (should you worry about that string of C’s?). A lot of teachers have e-mail at school now — a great way to check in.
2. Learning doesn’t stop at 3:15.
You can help the teacher do a better job by encouraging your child to show you something he’s working on at school, suggests Ron Martucci, who teaches fourth grade in Pelham, New York. It doesn’t have to be a big deal: “Ask him to demonstrate how he does long division or to read his book report out loud,” says Martucci. “Every time your child gets a chance to show off what he knows, it builds confidence.”
3. Let your child make mistakes.
Don’t forget, he’s learning. Teachers don’t want perfect students, they want students who try hard. “Sometimes parents get caught up in thinking every assignment has to be done exactly right, and they put too much pressure on their child,” says Brian Freeman, a second-grade teacher from Red Spring, North Carolina. “But it’s OK for kids to get some problems wrong. It’s important for us to see what students don’t know, so we can go over the material again.”
4. Stay involved — even when you don’t know the material.
You can provide moral support and be your child’s cheerleader no matter how well (or poorly) you did in a certain subject. “Parents tell me they didn’t take trigonometry or flunked chemistry, so how can they check the homework?” says Tim Devine, a high school social science teacher in Chicago. “But we don’t expect you to be an expert on every subject.” Just knowing a parent is paying attention can be very motivating for a student.
5. The teacher’s on your side — give her the benefit of the doubt.
Rachel James, a third-grade teacher in Reson, Florida, was having a terrible time with one of her students. For days, the boy had been disruptive, rolling his eyes and sighing dramatically whenever anyone spoke to him. Naturally, she had to reprimand him. “His mom called and accused me of picking on her son,” says James. “When I told her what was going on, she was shocked.” After the mom had calmed down, they worked out some ways to change the boy’s behavior. “A lot of parents go into attack mode when their child complains about a teacher,” says James. “Or they take the problem to the principal, so the teacher feels blindsided. But parents need to get all the facts before they react.”
6. Keep your child organized.
That means helping teachers with the paper chase. “I spend way too much time tracking down tests or forms I’ve sent home for a parent’s signature,” says Judy Powell, a fifth-grade teacher from Richmond, Virginia. Usually, the missing items are crumpled up in the bottom of the kid’s backpack, along with lunch leftovers and other clutter. Powell’s solution: Have your child empty his backpack every day as part of a regular after-school routine. Set up a special place, such as a box in the kitchen, where he can put the day’s papers, and provide another spot, such as a desk drawer, for old assignments that you want to save. A bright-colored folder is a good idea, too, for toting homework — and signed papers — to and from school. And about those supplies: Keep plenty on hand. “Kids run out of pencils and paper, and it’ll be three weeks before they’ll remember to tell you,” says Powell.
7. If the teacher deserves a good grade, give her one.
“Teaching isn’t easy,” says Lauren Steiner, a kindergarten teacher from Alpharetta, Georgia. “There are days when a kid has a tantrum, or you feel like crying because a parent speaks to you harshly. So it’s incredibly uplifting when someone takes the time to say thank you.” Why not e-mail or call when your child enjoys a class event or says something nice about the instructor? And if you feel the teacher is doing a good job, let the principal know. Volunteering is another way to demonstrate your enthusiasm and support, even if you only have time to help out once a year. “It shows your child — and his teacher — that you really care about his education,” says Weinberg.
Source: Good Housekeeping