8 Things All Teachers Want Parents to Know

FlickrFlickrAs the school year winds down and summer vacation begins, I have something to say about the battle between teachers and parents. Why, exactly, are we fighting one another? This is supposed to be a teamwork thing and, in some instances, I see a whole lot of Us vs. Them on the educational front.

I thought it was time to hear from teachers about what they wish parents knew and, boy, did I get an earful. As a former teacher, there isn't one thing on this list that I didn't entirely agree with. Now I'm an administrator in charge of teachers, so I get to hear from parents far more regularly and passionately. I asked some teachers what they wanted parents to know about, and this is a culmination of that research.


1. Know the value of learning at home
College professor Tracy says even though parents swear they are making their child read at home, she isn't seeing evidence of it in the classroom. Children won't be good writers if they're not good readers. This is also true of math. If you don't make your children practice at home, then you're expecting all of that learning to take place at school. I've heard from many parents, "It's YOUR job to teach. I don't have to do that." That is exactly the wrong attitude about education. They learn from home first.

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2. Separate your own learning style from your child's
My friend and parent advocate, Dina, suggested that parents who are frustrated with their kids should adjust their own teaching styles. When I realized my son Mason had a completely different learning style than myself, I let his father and sister take over homework duties with him. Lots of children are completely different from their parents. It's also important not to say, "I was never good at such-and-such, so he's not going to be, either." So what if I wasn't good at math in high school? That's no reason to give my child the excuse to lower his or her expectations of themselves.

3. Check with your child's teacher to determine if extra help is necessary
My friend Deva noted that too many kids are being sent to tutoring services when they don't actually need it. Some could use the enrichment or extra help, but parents sometimes spend a lot of unnecessary money trying to help their child. Teachers have the expertise to tell if your child actually needs more assistance, and we know how they can get it. Just ask.

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4. College isn't the only successful option after graduation
Pushing children in one direction exacerbates the academic failure that's prevalent in schools today. Many professional teachers know former students who have experienced career success without a college degree. College is great and helpful, but it isn't for everyone. Don't be offended if teachers suggest as much.

5. Don't keep important information from your child's teacher
Tell us what your child needs and what works for them at home. Erica, an educator from Chicago, says when teachers don't know if a child needs extra help with learning, it can make it difficult to instruct them. If something works for you at home, let's try it at school, too. After my youngest son's diagnosis of ADHD, I wrote yearly letters to his teachers highlighting his strengths and his weaknesses. Ask us what you can do to help us instead of asking, "What are YOU going to do to fix this?"

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6. Come to school meetings with an open mind and attitude
Academic success will come differently for every child, and we have to work together as a team to achieve it. In my 18 years as an educator, I've often met parents who were angry because their child hasn't been able to accomplish something yet. Just remember that teachers really do have the best intentions when it comes to teaching, so when you go to your next parent-teacher conference, don't show up on the defensive. Listen to what your child's teacher has to say.

7. Don't say, "Well, he doesn't do this at home."
Well, naturally, right. We don't expect your child to have the same behavior everywhere. We have different expectations for our children at church and at the water park. Unless you're asking your child to learn, listen, and be engaged for extended periods of time, don't tell us they don't do the same stuff at home.

8. Remember that teachers are professionals with lots of training, college degrees, and ongoing professional development
Teachers are doing an amazing job of instructing a variety of different learners in their classrooms, and they feel beaten down when parents view them as the enemy. We don't expect you to agree with every thing we do or expect from your child, but we do deserve to be listened to as professionals. Treat us with respect, and your children will learn to treat people with respect, too.

- By Kelly Wickham
Follow Kelly at Babble

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Kelly Wickham grew up in Chicago and is the author of Mocha Momma, mother to 4 children ages 17-26. She earned an M.S. in Educational Administration and has worked in education as a teacher, literacy coach, private homeschool tutor, guidance dean, and assistant principal.

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