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With the new school year starting soon (or possibly already started where you are), parents can support teachers.
I am a teacher; however, I am no longer in the classroom. You can read about that here.
When I was teaching full time, I loved when parents were supportive, and we could work together. I did not, unfortunately, appreciate those parents enough.
As a parent, I always tried to find ways to support my daughter’s teachers. I was on the PTO/PTSO at a couple of her schools.
There are myriad ways parents can support teachers, but today, we are going to discuss ten of them.
10 WAYS PARENTS CAN SUPPORT TEACHERS
Stay in Contact Throughout the School Year
This sounds like something that parents should not have to be told, but as students get older, parents tend to become less involved. When parents are involved, students tend to have more success.
When the school year starts, teachers are going to send home paperwork. Some of it will be digital, and some will be analog. Please fill out all the paperwork and send it back. Do not cause the teacher stress by making him/her call and email and send more forms. Something else that should not have to be said but here goes: Be sure to give the teacher your CORRECT CONTACT INFORMATION. Keep that information updated if it changes throughout the school year.
Another way to stay in contact is to schedule time to speak to the teacher about your child. Do not have these conversations in front of your child or in front of other parents/adults. Your child’s progress and/or struggles are no one else’s business.
You can stay in contact by attending parent-teacher conferences and open house nights at the school.
One way you can communicate that does not require the teacher to respond is to send a thank you note to the teacher. Say something simple; “Thank you for your dedication to the students.” The teacher will appreciate it, and he/she will not forget it.
Finally, if you see something that seems off, contact the teacher early. If your child’s grade looks low, send a message and ask for more information. Do not accuse the teacher, but ask for a way to work together to support your student. If you allow any problem to fester, it will get to the point where either you or the teacher (or both) end up very frustrated.
Communication is key to helping your child succeed and making the teacher’s year smoother.
Have a Smooth Transition in the Mornings
Parents can support teachers by helping to ensure that the students are ready to transition from home to school in the mornings.
When your child is getting ready for school in the mornings, have a routine. This will help you and him/her know what is going to happen and when. It will also ensure that everything gets done every morning.
Pack your child’s lunch or make a plan for him/her to purchase lunch at school. Some students get upset if they do not know what they are supposed to do when lunch time arrives.
Before you leave for work or your child leaves for school, whichever is first, be sure to hug your child. Show your love for your child. Be sure to tell him/her how proud you are and that he/she is going to have a great day.
If you pack your child’s lunch, leave a “love note” to be found when it is opened. Or, place one in his/her planner or backpack. You do not have to put the notes in the same place all the time; this will add to the surprise.
Be sure your child is getting enough sleep. If your child is tired/sleepy in the mornings, it makes the transition from home to school harder. It also makes the entire day more difficult for your student.
Anything you can think of to make your child’s transition easier in the mornings is great. Sing a song on the way to school. Pray over the school before you head out for the day. Hold hands as you walk to the car. Find a special way to connect with your child and make the transition less difficult.
Donate School Supplies
Trust me, I know. The list of school supplies you are expected to buy is crazy. Every year, it seems to get a little longer and more expensive.
Just know that every parent is right there with you.
Unfortunately, there are some parents, and you may be one of them, who cannot afford all the things on the list. That means that teachers will have to buy them for the students to use.
An extra pack of pencils/crayons/markers will mean a lot to a teacher who has 30 students and not all of them bring supplies.
When you go to meet the teacher, hopefully before school starts, ask what he/she needs most. Is there something specific for the classroom that he/she needs but has not been able to get yet? If you can get that item, do it. Or, work with a few parents and get it.
Another thing you can do is ask the teacher for an Amazon Wishlist. Most teachers have them. Some of my teacher friends are actually posting them to Facebook now to try to get things for their classrooms before school starts again.
Here are a few things that most teachers need, even if they do not tell you. (NOTE: These are affiliate links, and I receive a commission at no extra cost to you.)
All of those are things that most teachers use on a daily basis. They are used to purchasing these for themselves. Some of the listed items are on sale, and you could get them before you go to Meet the Teacher Night. You could take a little gift with you that night.
Most teachers will not complain about purchasing items for students to use. Some will struggle to be able to get the items, but they will find a way. One way parents can support teachers is to donate supplies. It saves the teacher money and stress.
This is a short, sweet way that parents can support teachers.
Know that the teacher is trying to do everything for every student. He/she only has so many hours in a day. Most of these hours are spent with your child.
When your child leaves, he/she still has to clean up the mess from the current day and plan for the following day.
The teacher has to try to get everything together and make everything available for each student.
This may sound blunt, but your child is not the teacher’s only student. If the teacher does not respond to your email or phone call when you think he/she should, be patient.
He/she has a list of things to accomplish. Most teachers, believe it or not, have a life outside of the classroom.
Just know that the teacher did not forget you. He/she is probably overwhelmed and working really hard to keep it all together to face 30 students tomorrow. (Note: I taught high school. My smallest classes for English were typically 34 students.)
Give grace. Have patience. Support teachers by allowing them to do their jobs at a pace that is comfortable and feasible.
Donate Lunch to the Teacher(s)
Even in elementary school, students have more than one teacher. My nieces each had 2 last year, not counting specials like music and PE.
As students get older, there are more teachers. In high schools, they typically have 8 teachers a year, if the school is on block scheduling.
Ask the teacher what his/her favorite restaurant is. Ask what he/she drinks from Starbucks.
If you do not feel comfortable bringing in food yourself, send gift cards. You do not have to send them to all the teachers at the same time, but teachers talk. So, if you send the English teacher a Starbucks gift card, he/she will probably tell other teachers.
Just be sure to treat all of your child’s teachers to something during the school year. It lets them know you appreciate the job they are doing.
Sending lunch or gift cards for lunch is a great way that parents can support teachers. The gift card option allows the teacher to use it when he/she wants to, and that can be a great time saver on a rushed morning.
If you show respect, you get respect. I know that is not always true, but it is always worth a try, right?
Respect the fact that the teacher has a degree in the subject area and in education. Right now, a lot of colleges make this either a double major or a very intense minor.
Teachers are trained professionals and not babysitters.
Many times, teachers are with your child more throughout the year than you are. They tend to see things, like patterns of behavior, that you may not see.
Trust that the teacher knows what he/she is talking about and, respectfully, have conversation if you disagree.
Respect the teacher’s time. This goes along with communication and patience.
Allow the teacher time to respond to emails or calls.
Again, schedule time to speak with the teacher. Do not walk into the classroom as you drop off your child and expect the teacher to have a one-on-one conversation about your child’s grades with you. He/she has other responsibilities at that moment and cannot have a parent-teacher conference.
If you respect the teacher, your child probably will as well. However, if you talk down about the teacher at home, your child will carry that attitude and opinion to school.
Parents can support teachers by respecting them.
Parents of younger students are typically more involved than older students. Most of my Meet the Teacher nights and Open House nights had fewer than 15 parents, and I had over 100 students most semesters.
Volunteer for things at the school. If you work during the day, volunteer for the night or weekend activities.
Show up for performances and activities, even if your child and his/her friends are not part of them. Teachers see who shows up for things.
Supporting the school goes a long way in supporting teachers. This shows a partnership between you, your family, and the school. In turn, this creates cooperation between you and the teacher because he/she will see you more often and get to know you.
Support School Rules and Procedures
We all know that there are some rules and procedures that are a little “out there.” Right?
Even if you disagree with a rule or procedure, enforce it with your child. Do not allow him/her to think that it is a “stupid” rule; then, he/she will think that following it optional.
If you do not understand a rule for the school or classroom, ask for clarification. It could be that it is worded incorrectly. There is a possibility that you did not interpret it the way it was intended. So, ask for an explanation before saying something to your child about it.
After getting more information, if you still think it is wrong, see what can be done about it. The school may be willing to look at options for the rule. However, it is possible that the rule could have been created by the school board. In that case, the school cannot do anything about it.
You can either fight it at the board level or just accept it.
Enforcing school rules and procedures with their students is a great way that parents can support teachers and the school.
Engage in Your Student’s Learning
Want a quick way to support the teacher?
Know what is going on at the school. Write testing dates on your calendar. Put school breaks in your planner and your child’s.
Spot check your child’s projects and homework. Be sure he/she is actually doing all the required work. Also, make sure he/she is turning in all the work that is completed.
If the teacher sends emails/newsletters/planners home with notes, be sure to read them. There is probably something in there that you need to know. If not, the teacher would not have taken the time to write it.
Parents who are engaged in their students’ learning are supporting teachers in a big way.
Be a Role Model
As parents, we are the first role model for our children. They look to us to know how they are supposed to act in everyday situations.
With that in mind, parents can use this role as a way to support teachers.
Be respectful of yourself, your child, and his/her teachers. Children do what they see others do. If you get enough sleep, eat right, and practice self-care, your child will too. If you need a way to kick start your self-care, check out this post.
Have positive interactions with your child and others, so your child knows what to expect.
Demonstrate good hygiene and good manners in front of your child. These are lessons that are taught through experience more than through explanation.
Finally, and probably most importantly, teach/show your child how to be a good, kind person.
Those are 10 ways parents can support teachers.
In reality, there are so many more. What ways have you supported teachers in the past? How are you going to support teachers this year?
If you want to support teachers with gifts, head over to the Amazon links above and grab some of the supplies for them. You will never know how much a few packs of pre-sharpened pencils will mean to a teacher. It saves him/her time and money because now the students can simply take a pencil and work–no sharpening required.
Teachers really are amazing people. Now that I have been out of the classroom for 3 years, I am not sure that I could return and do that job again now.