6 Things Teachers Wish You Would Do (page 2)
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Sure, you're the parent who volunteers in the classroom, attends every open house and persuades your colleagues to order 50 rolls of wrapping paper every year for the school fundraiser. What more could you possibly do to show your support for your child's education?
Well, according to some teachers, there may be a few things that even the most well-intentioned parents could learn about their child's classroom. Here's what they said they wished parents would do:
Allow your child to be independent.
“I wish parents would stop doing everything for their children and allow them to do things for themselves,” said Judy Corn, assistant director of Island Montessori School in Carolina Beach, North Carolina. At Judy's school, parents are encouraged to dress children in clothes and shoes that the children can easily take off and put on themselves. Young children are also expected to clean their plates after lunch, take turns doing chores to keep the classroom clean, and spend their school day working independently on lessons and activities.
Parents can support this initiative by giving children more opportunities to be independent at home. Let your child help with daily chores, such as setting the table and cleaning up after dinner. Give your child opportunities to take care of himself, and certainly don’t do your child's schoolwork for him.
After all, Dr. Maria Montessori, the pioneer of the Montessori Method, which encourages even children as young as 1 and 2 to be independent, said it best when she said, “Never help a child with a task at which he feels he can succeed.”
Communicate with your child's teacher.
Good teachers make themselves accessible to parents by phone and/or email and are always very happy to answer questions or address any concerns. "Don't hesitate to contact the teacher. Email or phone calls are always welcome," says Blair Williams, a third grade teacher at Carolina Beach Elementary School.
Another good rule of thumb: If you have any concerns about your child's progress—socially, academically or developmentally—always attempt to talk with the teacher first before going to an administrator. Chances are, if you ask the principal first, she is going to turn to the person who best knows how your child is doing in class: your child's teacher.
Don't just sign the handbook—read it!
Parents are inundated with paperwork at the beginning of the year and are likely tempted to just sign most of it without reading any of the contents. Keep in mind teachers spend a lot of time compiling the information presented in parent handbooks with the hope that parents will take the time to read what is on every page. "Always read the beginning-of-the-year handout and keep it handy,” says Williams. “It covers many questions for the whole year."
Turn off the text.
It seems that children are getting cell phones at younger and younger ages each year. In fact, many schools have abandoned their rules against having cell phones at school because they are simply too difficult and time-consuming to enforce.
However, if you do choose to send your child to school with a cell phone, be courteous and don't text your child during school hours. If you have an urgent message to relay to your child, call the school's office, and someone will gladly give your child a message.
Bottom line: If you want to send your child a message, send the message that you value his education and stop texting him while he's in class.
No more apples, please.
When it's time to give your child's teacher a gift, please refrain from apple-themed gifts, lotions or candles. While teachers appreciate the kind gesture, they get their fair share of these items each year, and most times don't know what to do with their overabundant collection of apples and apple-scented lotion.
Believe it or not, what most teachers want are more materials and supplies for the classroom. As one teacher puts it, a gift for the classroom is really a gift of time for the teacher. “I make a lot of the materials for my class,” says Cheryl Blackwelder, a lead teacher for 1- and 2-year-olds. “When a parent buys something for my class, they're really giving me the gift of time—time that I can spend teaching.”
Look beyond the grades.
The best suggestion teachers can give parents is to monitor your child's progress by looking at his whole development rather than just his grades. What does that mean exactly? Look at how your child interacts with his teachers and peers. Is he respectful of others? Is he courteous? Is he eager and willing to do things for himself?
Ultimately, parents should understand that teachers really want just one thing: to work together with parents. Parents and teachers should join forces to help nurture children so they grow up to be productive, responsible and caring citizens of the world.
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