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6 Things Teachers Wish You Would Do

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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? According to some teachers, there are 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.

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By Jennifer Friend

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? According to some teachers, there are a few things that even the most well-intentioned parents could learn about their child's classroom.

Let your child 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. Students at her school are expected to clean their plates after lunch, take turns doing classroom chores, and spend their school day working independently. Give your child opportunities to take care of himself at home. Let him help with daily chores, provide clothes and shoes he can easily take off and put on himself, and certainly don’t do his homework for him.

Communicate with teachers

Good teachers make themselves accessible to parents by phone 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. If you ask the principal first, changes are she’ll turn to the teacher anyway.

Read the handbook

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."

No more apples

While teachers appreciate the kind gesture, they may not know what to do with the abundance of apples and apple-scented lotion they get every year. Believe it or not, what most teachers want are more materials and supplies for the classroom. “I make a lot of the materials for my class,” says Cheryl Blackwelder, a teacher of 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

Monitor your child's whole development, rather than just his grades. Teachers don’t just teach academics; they’re teaching life lessons every day. 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? Putting emphasis on these traits isn’t just the right thing to do—it also makes the teacher’s job easier.

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Stop texting

Kids are getting cell phones at younger and younger ages each year, and many schools have abandoned their rules against having cell phones at school because they are 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.

Ultimately, parents should understand that teachers really want just one thing: to work together. 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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