Things Teachers Wish Parents Knew
Published on: September 01, 2015
Get a group of teachers together and you’ll hear them talk passionately and explicitly about their work, the children they teach and even, you – the parents! Teacher and mother, Louisa Perkins, invites you to be a ‘fly on the staff room wall’ as teachers discuss 20 things they wish parents knew.
By Louisa Perkins
We all know that good communication is key to building a positive relationship. Whether it be with your mother, partner, or children, most of us will make a conscious effort to keep the lines of communication open and constructive so that we can meet one another’s needs and maintain a strong bond.
But how far do we extend this principle to other relationships, such as with our children’s teachers?
The relationship you have with your child’s teacher is an important factor in his/her educational success. Through parent-teacher meetings, weekly newsletters, and the occasional email, you may feel you are communicating well, but there are some things that most teachers would like to make more explicit to parents if they could.
This article shares the candid views of over 100 current classroom teachers from both Bangkok and abroad.
20 Things Teachers Wish Parents Knew…
When your child plays, he learns
Your child needs to learn how to play freely, actively, and purposefully. Allow him time to play both with you and without you, in an unstructured way. Allow him to take reasonable risks, face challenges, and make mistakes through his play.
Your child can do more than you think she can
Encouraging your child to develop independence and an ‘I can do it’ attitude is key to gaining new skills throughout life. So many parents jump in too soon to help their child, thinking they are being caring and supportive, whereas fostering her independence will serve as a much more valuable life skill.
Hold the tears until you are out of sight
Whether your child skips into school confidently on his very first day or if he clings desperately to your leg, please do everything you can not to show your own distress. Smile as you give him a quick hug and kiss goodbye and tell him you will be back to collect him later. Long, emotional goodbyes only make things worse and he is likely to be playing happily not long after you leave.
The importance of being punctual
As adults, we know that being late for work can result in us chasing our tail for the rest of the day, so imagine the impact this can have on a child. Arriving late to school means missing out on the crucial ‘settling-in’ time with his peers as well as missing vital information about the day ahead from his teacher. This negative start will often have knock-on effects throughout the day.
Your child needs to feel prepared
Whilst teachers want your child to develop independence, this doesn’t mean we want parents to offer no support at all. Help your child to be prepared for the day with her PE kit, homework, water bottle, and hat by creating a routine and checklist at home.
We really do care about your child
We worry about your child in very similar ways that you do. We worry if he seems sad or withdrawn; we worry if he is lonely, nervous or struggling with something. We worry because we care about his welfare just as much as, if not more than, his academic success. We worry about these things because as teachers, we know happiness is the precursor to success, and like you, we want your child to be happy.
A love of reading is one of the greatest gifts you can give your child
Let your child see you reading for pleasure. Fill your home with books and other reading material and help her to associate reading with comfort and enjoyment by snuggling up and enjoying a book together.
Attitude is everything
Focus on your child’s attitude to learning rather than just her academic success. Does she approach challenges enthusiastically? Does she put effort into what she does? Does she interact positively with her teachers and friends? Praise effort over achievement and you will teach your child that persevering and working hard is success in itself.
You are partners in your child’s learning
Get involved and work with us rather than seeing your child’s education as the sole responsibility of the school. Foster a love of learning and a respect for education and educators at home, and ensure that your child sees and hears positive interactions between you and his teachers.
We know what we are doing
This isn’t to say that teachers are perfect and never make mistakes, but we have trained for a number of years to become qualified in our chosen profession so please try to trust in us and the decisions made by the school. Teaching is a very different skill to parenting.
We are on your side
When you do find yourself faced with an issue, think carefully about how you raise it with your school. Complaints are destructive and do not promote a positive relationship. Instead, if you want something to change, approach the school in a reasonable way, seek an explanation, and try not to assume the worst.
It’s okay to make mistakes
Promote a healthy attitude towards mistakes. Allow your child to see you making and learning from your own mistakes so that he understands we are all life-long learners. Praise effort rather than highlight inaccuracies – a child who has every spelling and grammar error corrected each time they write will soon become disheartened and reluctant to do so again.
It’s your child’s homework, not yours
Us teachers can spot ‘parent-produced’ homework a mile off! Whilst we want you to be available to answer questions and provide encouragement, stepping in to ‘help’ and ultimately doing it for them isn’t productive for anyone and sends the message to your child that they can’t do it themselves.
Children will be more successful if they enjoy what they are doing
As your child gets older and chooses examination subjects, allow her the freedom to choose what she enjoys – she will do better.
The importance of sleep and breakfast
A good night’s sleep and a healthy breakfast are prerequisites for learning. Missing out on either of these things will greatly affect your child’s ability to focus in class.
Let your child enjoy her childhood
Too many structured activities can be detrimental to your child’s success. Parents want the best for their children but filling every hour of their day with extracurricular activities means they will lose the ability to occupy themselves and the opportunity to enjoy their carefree years. Give them a break from Kumon, piano, or chess, and allow them time to just get on and play imaginatively by themselves or with friends.
Your children learn and act according to what you do, not what you say
You are your child’s first and most influencing teacher, so lead by example. If you want your child to know that it’s rude to play with his phone when in the company of others, make sure to resist checking your emails when ‘listening’ to him talk about his day.
We promise not to believe everything your child tells us, if you promise not to believe everything he says happens at school!
When little Johnny tells us that Mummy and Daddy drank wine until their legs stopped working and their heads fell off last night (a true example!), we will give you the benefit of the doubt, so please try to do the same when he comes home saying he did nothing all day at school!
Be an active supporter of the school and your child’s place in it
If you can join the Parent Teacher Association, do. Attend parent-teacher meetings and ‘Back to School’ nights. Turn up to your child’s performances as often as you can, and when you do, be on time. Never let your child hear you criticizing her teacher or school – address issues constructively. Show her that you value the school and what she does there.
Teachers work incredibly hard
It’s a well-known fact that those of us who choose a career in teaching are not in it for the money. It is a vocation, and the responses to this survey proved how passionate teachers are about what they do, and the educational and emotional welfare of the children in their care. It is not uncommon to hear us refer to our class as ‘our kids’ and watching them flourish as they move through the school and beyond is our biggest reward.
However, whilst we’re not looking for sympathy, our working day is incredibly busy and definitely doesn’t end at 15:30 as some might think! Please try to show understanding if your email isn’t replied to right away or your child’s 20-page story isn’t marked and returned the same day. And, just as you would share your concerns if you were unsatisfied with something, please do let us know if you are happy too.
About the Author
Louisa hails from the United Kingdom. She and her husband had their first baby in February. Louisa moved here as a single 29-year-old after a year of traveling solo around Asia, Australia, and New Zealand. She is a primary teacher by profession with a long-held ambition to get involved in journalism and writing.
The views expressed in the articles in this magazine are not necessarily those of BAMBI committee members and we assume no responsibility for them or their effects.
BAMBI News welcomes volunteer contributors to our magazine. Please contact email@example.com.