I have always wondered what teachers *REALLY* want to say to parents, but can’t. I get the impression they are worried to tell parents the truth, since these days some moms & dads are quick to blame the teacher for problems with their children. I have had a lot of conferences with my son’s teacher this year (that’s a post for another day…) and I know I found myself wondering if she is holding back.
So I decided to email all the teachers that I knew. I asked them what they wished they could tell parents, if they were able to speak to them honestly…. without any repercussions. Originally, I thought this would be a funny, sarcastic type post. (like ‘Tell parents they aren’t always right’ and suggestions like that) However, I quickly realized that would not be the case.
A lot of teachers took the time to write me back. And these were not one or two sentence suggestions. They wrote me long, detailed letters full of everything they see happening with kids today. Some even wrote follow- up emails after thinking about issues they had forgot to mention.
Some of these teachers work in low-income communities, others in more affluent areas. I also spoke to teachers who work at charter and private schools. What I found was interesting is almost all the teachers told me basically the same things.
Here are 5 things that ALL the teachers I emailed mentioned in some way or another.
- Read with your child everyday: Teachers tell me they know right away which kids read with their parents each night, and which ones don’t. Students who read often when they are young, end up doing better in school overall and it carries through to when they are older.
- Pay attention: Teachers say parents really need to do a better job in paying attention to what is going on with their kids class. Most of them say they try to make it as easy as possible for you to stay in the loop. Some do an email blast each week, other send home weekly or monthly calendars. Others say they send a sheet home each day to make sure parents know what is going on. Despite all this, teachers say most parents don’t even read those planners, and your children suffer because of it. Kids will say they didn’t know they had a test, or they forgot to do their class project, even though reminders (sometimes more than one) were sent home.
- Give your kids real world experiences: You would think this is a given, but almost EVERY teacher said this! Teachers say they are shocked by how many kids have never been to the library, or the zoo, or bowling. They tell me this becomes obvious since children can’t answer thinking questions on certain tests that have to do with real-life experience. Most kids say they spend free time playing video games and watching TV.
- Know your kids strengths: Every child has things they are good at, and things they may struggle with. Teachers gave me examples of students who may not be the brightest when it comes to school work, but that they have parents who worked with them to find OTHER skills that they are really good at, and nurture that skill. Maybe they are really good at art, or a particular sport. They say when that happens, the kids are more confident overall, so they continue to work hard in the areas they aren’t as good at. Try to pay attention to the things your kids really love doing.
- Take a GENUINE interest in your children: This is the one that really broke my heart and made me take a hard look at myself and how I parent my children. Every single teacher said this in some form or fashion. They said it seems like many parents don’t REALLY talk to their kids. Rich or poor, they say they can tell which parents really take time and really focus on their kids. One teacher even told me that after she asked students to speak with their parents that night about the vocabulary words they learned, a student actually said, “My mom doesn’t have time for that, she’s always talking on the phone.”
Reading all these responses from teacher was a great reminder to me, just how important it is to be PRESENT when you are with your kids. Pay attention to what they enjoy and make their schoolwork a priority. Teachers have such a short amount of time to give your children all the skills they need, so you HAVE to help. I know I need to work on #2 and #4. I learned a lot, and have made some major changes to make sure I am more proactive in Hudson’s schooling.
A big THANK YOU to all my teacher friends who took the time to respond… and for being so honest & open!