Tomorrow your children will become my children for the next ten months. Please believe that I want them to be successful as much as (or in some cases maybe more than) you do. Here are some simple things you can do to help your child:
1. Ask questions. Ask them about school, not just about academics, but about their friends, their interests, their teachers. School is by far the largest and most influential part of their lives--what happens there matters.
2. Ask their teacher questions. It takes only a minute to drop an email to your child's teacher that says "How are things going?". Trust me, the teacher will appreciate your interest! This goes double for if your child has something going on that may interfere with school. If there has been a death in the family, a change in the household, your child has been very sick--let me know and I will work with him while he gets through it.
3. Be your child's advocate. If something isn't going well for your child, it is important that you address it immediately. This runs the spectrum from difficulty with a particular class, to bullying, to getting tested for learning disabilities.
4. If I contact you, understand that it's because I care about your child and his education, not because I am "picking on him". Try to listen and be objective. No one wants to get "that phone call". It's embarrassing, infuriating and difficult not to take personally. However, understand that when it comes to success in school, your child is often his own worst enemy. If you aren't insisting that he do his work and behave in a respectful manner at home, then why should he do it in school?
5. Don't make excuses for your child. Ultimately one of our jobs is to prepare your children for the real world. In the real world, everyone is accountable for their choices and this lesson should begin in school and at home.
6. Don't make excuses for yourself. It is extremely easy to find out exactly how your child is doing in school. If you have computer access, you can find it out in seconds. Make it your business to know so there won't be any surprises come report card day.
7. Model respect at home. If you want your child to treat people with respect, you must treat your child with respect. I have seen so many angry, damaged children with low self-esteem. Your relationship with your child is the model for every relationship he will have for the rest of his life.
8. School supplies. Buy them. Right away. Don't tell me you can't afford $3 in school supplies when your kid has a cell phone, acrylic nails and $100 tennis shoes. If you truly can't afford them, there are options, but it's not my job to figure them out.
9. Say thank you to your child's teacher. I can live on a kind word for weeks. Every email I have ever gotten with a thank you, I save. Every kind word, I hold close to my heart. We don't do this job for the money--this job is a calling. A acknowledgement of how hard we work is so appreciated.
10. If you can, send something in. This happens all the time in elementary school, but not in upper grades. The school provides the desks and the rooms. Everything else, from the decorations on the bulletin boards to the kleenex on our desks, come from our pockets. Send in a box of kleenex and some hand sanitizer every once in awhile and we will love you forever!
11. Help your child to understand that it doesn't matter if he "likes" me or not. It is another great lesson to learn that in life that we will always have to deal with people in positions of authority that we don't like or who do things that we don't agree with. How many bosses have you liked? Bottom line, it is not a reason to be disrespectful or blow off the work. If you do, you are only hurting yourself.
12. Make sure they have breakfast and lunch. I know, I know, my kids tell me "I'm not hungry" too! See this is where you have to actually be the parent and do the hard work of making them do something they don't want to do/care about because its whats best for them. Throw them a granola bar before they walk out the door at minimum. Make sure they have lunch or money for lunch time. I can't even begin to teach these kids when they are hungry.
13. There are some clothes that are not appropriate for school. Yes, yes, I know its a crummy way to start the day telling your daughter she can't go to school with her boobs hanging out of her shirt or your son that its not appropriate to have his pants down below his butt along with a t-shirt that says "Free Breast Exams--Ask Me How!", but it's got to be done.
Thanks a million,
Your kid's teacher