Back to school is here and back to school means new classrooms, new teachers and new routines. Having taught myself, I like to be involved as much as I can in my child’s education. I am lucky and my kids attend a fantastic school with even more fantastic teachers. They are not only my children’s educators, but I consider them friends as well.
Being on both sides of the coin, having my own classroom for 7 years and then having experiences with 11 teachers from my own kid’s classrooms, I think I can safely assess what a teacher likes and doesn’t like. Now, yes, I cannot speak for everyone, but most teachers needs are the same. I have come up with 10 ways for you to quickly become your child’s teacher’s favorite- which is what all parents want, right?? Please know, that these things are possible even if you are working. I was once a working mom myself and yes, now I stay home and work from home on my writing, but I know how it is to balance a full time job and kids. The biggest rule to remember, as in most of life, it’s not always the quantity but the quality that counts. This also applies to the classroom.
So here are the ten things that YOU can do as a parent to quickly become the classroom favorite parent!
1. Follow the classroom rules and procedures. In the beginning of the year, your child’s teacher will send home a packet of all of the classroom rules, routines and procedures. Yes, they actually sat down and wrote allllll of it, so you should at least sit down and read it! You should know which day your kid’s have PE and need to wear sneakers, you should know when spelling tests are and when homework is due. Know what their behavior expectations are talk with your child about it. Just because you are not there doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t know what your kid’s are doing! Knowing what your child is doing at school makes it easier for your child’s teacher to do their job at school.
2. Bring in the supply list. Years ago when I started teaching, each teacher received approximately $400 a year to buy materials for your classroom and another $300 to purchase supplies: things like copy paper, pencils, glue- that sort of thing. My last year teaching, we each got $100 total. That’s it. If you have ever purchased classroom supplies for your child, and I am assuming you have if you are reading this, then that’s barely enough to cover one or two kids, let alone 25+. When your child’s teacher sends home that supply list at the beginning of the year, please know that chances are, they don’t have the budget to buy any more for the rest of the year, so all those pencils, notebooks, crayons, glue and soap needs to last 180 days of school. We all know money is tight and each family’s situation is different, so even if you can’t send it all in at once, send it in a few items at a time. Your child’s teacher will love and take anything that you can bring in.
3. Offer to help, either in class or at home! Everyone loves a good volunteer! Here is where being a stay at home mom has it advantages. But, believe it or not, even I don’t want to spend all my kid free time at school helping in their rooms, so helping out even every once and a while is nice. Can’t come in and help? Offer to take some grading to stapling home over the weekend. Especially if you have a child in an older grade, they do A LOT of grading, and any piles that you can do would be greatly welcomed! Even if you helped out 2 or 3 times a month, you will soon be heading to the top of the favorite list.
4. Return emails and phone calls. I hate when people don’t return emails, texts or phone calls. Communication between my child’s teacher and myself is no exception. And, yes, while I don’t expect them to return calls or emails during instruction time, I’d hope to get a response back by the end of the day, if one was warranted. These expectations go both ways. If you child’s teacher calls you or sends an email about something, take the time to respond. It’s a sign of respect and an important part of the communication chain between you and your child’s teacher.
5. Work with your child at home with homework, reading and spelling. The amount of one-on-one time you need to do with your child on homework depends on their grade and abilities, but you should at the minimum be troubleshooting questions, explaining directions and checking their work. Every school aged child, no matter what grade, should also be reading at night to help reinforce their reading strategies and improve their abilities. Lastly, work with your child on their spelling words every night! Spelling is one thing that’s hard to work on during the school day, so in order for your child to go well and get a good grade on their test, you need to be working with them.
6. Follow through with school consequences at home. This is one that personally makes me mad. I have heard parents say “oh, I don’t punish my kid for things that happened at school- that’s already over and I don’t want to deal with it anymore.” GRRR. Ok, yes, I get the not dwelling on it all day, yes, but I’ll tell you that if my child came home with a bad report from school, thankful they have NOT but if they did, there would CERTAINLY be consequences at home. I want my kids to know that I respect their teacher and they are kind of like my replacement when they are at school. I want them to behave at school how I expect them to at home and if they do not, I will find out about it and deal with it as well.
7. Be on time for events. Be on time people. Get your kids to school on time, pick them up on time, don’t be late for conferences, meetings or events. Yes, things happen, but try and be on time. It’s just rude not to be.
8. Donate class snacks. This depends on your child’s teacher’s classroom routine, not all teachers want snack donations, but usually the younger grades do. It’s nice to keep on hand some snacks for the kids who forgot theirs at home0 without having to pay for it out of their own pockets. Better than just donating snacks, is remembering to send yours in with one 🙂
9. Find out what your child’s teacher’s favorite drink is and bring it in with you when you come to volunteer. This one is completely optional but such a nice touch- everyone loves caffeine and your child’s teacher would be SO thrilled to get a surprise coffee or tea when you come in to help. Even if you did this one time, you’d definitely move to the top of the fav list!
10. Be 50% of the team and respect the other half. You and your child’s teacher are equal parts of a team, This team has the same goal in mind: to get YOUR child the best education as possible. Ask your child about their day, sit with them, answer their questions. Ask how their behavior was. Respect your child’s teachers rules, rewards and consequences. Yes, maybe you do things a bit different at home and thats ok. If you are concerned about something or don’t understand a grade or bad report your child got, ask the TEACHER. Don’t always trust what your child comes home saying- they are young and easily distracted ;). Be respectful, be kind and be involved.
So there you have it- 10 thing that you can do to be the best classroom parent that you can be. Like I said above, your child’s education is a two way street. All of my kid’s teachers sign their emails home “your partner in education” for a reason. They cannot do it without you and, unless you are choosing to homeschool your kids, you cannot do it without them. You all need to be advocates for your child so he or she can have the best school year- and it doesn’t hurt to go the extra mile every now and again either. Your child’s teacher will certainly appreciate it!
Do you have school aged kids? What are your tips for a successful school year?
Looking for more school tips? Check out these posts too: