Every year, parents ask me how they can best help their kid in academic and social areas. Parents absolutely know their child best, but when it comes to pushing them in education, it’s wonderful they refer to experts in that arena.
In fact, when it comes to my own child, I do the same. I spend my days teaching middle school kids, but when I want to know about ten-frames, sight words and how to navigate first grade mean girl drama (yes, it exists), I go to my daughter’s incredible teachers, counselors and administrators.
We don’t know everything, and not all our advice will work in every situation with every student, but teachers do provide a wealth of knowledge for parents trying to be their child’s best advocate at home and school. Here are some things teachers at all levels want parents to know to help their child succeed.
We’re a team.
First, we really are all in this together.
“We are all a team,” said Tara Wilcox, a kindergarten teacher from Omaha. “I'm here for you and your student just as you are. Communication is key to keep the team working.”
Casey Lynn, a fifth grade teacher from Papillion, agreed.
“Remember that teachers are parents and people too. We care deeply about your children and want what's best for them even if that may be tough. Be on the same team as your child's teacher!”
Know that your child may come home with a slightly different version than what actually happened at school. It doesn’t necessarily mean that they are being dishonest, but there may be more to the story. Your child’s teacher wants to help them succeed, just like you do. Make sure to check with the teacher before you assume your child knows the whole story.
Check the backpack and computer.
There are two places to check often — your child’s backpack and your own email or parent portal service for grades and communication.
Pre-kindergarten teacher Kristi Jones of Omaha reminds parents to check their child’s backpack daily.
“We try so hard to notify families of events and happenings, extra "reminder" notices (verbally and via phone), but there are always papers in the backpack,” Finch said. “I found papers from August (in November) in several backpacks.”
Checking up on grades online is also a fantastic way to keep abreast of progress, but teachers also recommend parents ask their children to bring the graded work home.
“I'm always amazed how many parents never see graded tests and worksheets at home," said Pete Campbell, a fifth grade teacher from Bellevue. “Many kids just toss the work in the garbage; not just the low grades, but good grades as well!”
Be a role model.
When it comes to learning, show your children that it can be fun.
“Read with them; be inquisitive with them,” said Judy Bauer, an elementary media specialist from Omaha. “Pay attention to what they are interested in and have meaningful discussion about those interests. Understand their learning style and nurture it. Help them be responsible for their learning.”
Modeling kindness and inclusivity can also go a long way to teaching your children how to be amazing people and citizens both in and outside the classroom. Helping your child accept all children is the biggest deterrent to bullying.
Teachers know the top advocates for the kids they teach are the people who know their students best — their parents. What do teachers really want parents to know? That we care about your kids more than they know, and like you, we really want what is best for them.
Jen Schneider is a local middle school teacher and mom to two children.