Sometimes it’s good to see someone else’s perspective on an issue. The following article was compiled by Jerald’s brother Jesse along with the help of his co-teachers at Zion Christian School.
- Take a legitimate interest in what your teacher is doing in the classroom. While teachers appreciate kind words like “You’re doing a great job” or “Appreciate it”, ask questions about what they are teaching or techniques that are being used to help students learn better. Anyone that is enjoying his job and is doing it as well as he can, loves to talk about it; this is no different in teaching. It can also be a wake-up call to teachers that are struggling with motivation in teaching well!
- Don’t treat your school/teacher as a daycare/babysitter. Teachers appreciate the trust that parents have in them but there is nothing more frustrating to teachers when they feel like they are the only ones working with a child’s bad habits. If a child has bad habits at school, they usually have bad habits at home as well. If you think that it’s up to the teacher to fix an issue alone since it’s taking place at school, there probably won’t be any success on the teacher’s end of it. Yes, the teacher is responsible for them while at school and can be a huge influence on them, but the success or failure of that child is ultimately the parent’s responsibility. Teachers cannot and should not try to be the parent. Our job is to help in their growing process.
- When you are approached about a problem with your child, follow up in a couple days and then again in a week or two to see if your child is improving. Don’t expect the teacher to always make the first move in communication when discussing where your child is at in his work, behavior, etc. Check in with the teacher at random times throughout the year to see how your child is doing. Your child is only 1 of possibly 20 in a classroom!
- If you contact the teacher about a problem, do it after school so the teacher has the evening to think about it. Contacting them in the morning before school starts can make a very difficult start to the day and keeps the teacher from being able to focus on the task at hand.
- What is discussed at home more than likely will find its way to school through the mouth of a youngster. This, of course, gives teachers a peek into homes which can be very encouraging but equally demoralizing. It doesn’t mean that we believe everything a child says at school, but bad attitudes at home towards the school or teachers will eventually express itself in a child’s behavior at school. Problems will develop quickly in a child when he sees that his parents have an issue with the teacher or if his parents do not have a good relationship amongst themselves. Most times, a young child’s heroes are Dad, Mom, and teacher, and when any of those are not a working unit, it causes a child lots of confusion which leads to insecurity. Insecurity creates another whole set of issues at school in that it will cause drama in the classroom and drag innocent students into the middle of it. Disagreements should never be discussed in front of a student. A child should not have to be forced with the decision of “Who do I listen to, Dad, Mom, or teacher?” Keep in mind that this applies to teachers as well, so it is a two-way street.
- When discussing your child with the teacher, make sure he is not around. And NEVER do it when other classmates are around. It’s not respectful to your child and it’s very awkward for the teacher.
- Offer to come do an art project or some type of skills training some afternoon. This can be for both dads and moms. Some examples could be painting, cake/cupcake decorating, making butter, trapping demonstrations, wiring, or anything in which you have a talent or enjoy doing. Depending on the event, you can have boys do one thing and girls another. My experience has been that children love this, especially if it’s their parents.
- Your child needs plenty of sleep to function properly at school. It can be very taxing to teachers when they are trying to teach a new concept and a student is half throttle. When he doesn’t understand it, he becomes grouchy and will even cry at times. A healthy diet is also important. Too much sugar, candy, and junk foods make the brain foggy. There is a noticeable difference in children who bring vegetables, fruits, and other healthy things in their lunch versus those who open their lunch box and find it packed with prepackaged foods. Start off their day with a healthy breakfast. Cereal may be the handiest thing for you to feed them, but most cereals are loaded with sugar and other junk. Be aware of how much screen time your child has. Excess screen time can hinder a child’s development. Teachers that regularly work with students who have excess screen time can always tell!
- Give your child responsibilities at home. Make sure they do them without a lot of prodding and that they do them well. A child should know how to obey voice commands and obey the first time they are told to do something. The voice of a teacher is so important at school. If a student doesn’t learn to listen well and follow instructions, school will be more difficult, especially as they progress into harder concepts.
- Make sure your child knows how to tie his shoes before going to school. It is also very helpful if they know how to put on their coats, caps, boots, etc. when going outside for recess. If your child doesn’t know how to properly use the restroom without assistance when entering kindergarten (assuming he’s not handicapped), you should probably reconsider whether he’s ready for school!
- Just because your child is an angel at home, doesn’t mean he is an angel at school. Remember, the last thing a teacher enjoys doing is calling or texting you with a report that your child has a problem. So don’t shrug it off by saying, “Jonny is such a good boy at home; I find it hard to believe that he has that problem.” It’s rather amusing that sometimes parents will believe their little “angel” more than they will an adult!
- “Helicopter” moms (They can be dads too but are usually moms) are a hindrance to a child’s development. If you don’t know what that is, it’s a parent that hovers over their child and never lets them get out of their nest. Many problems would never rear their head if Mr./Mrs. “Helicopter” just stayed calm and trusted the teacher to oversee “Jonny” and “Sue” while they are at school. This does not contradict the earlier points on working together as a parent/teacher team. There’s a balance in this; some things at school you need to just let the teacher take care of. I have seen numerous times throughout my years of teaching (whether in my classroom or another classroom) where a student was more relaxed around his teacher than around his own dad or mom and that is very unfortunate! That is what a “helicopter” parent will do to a child.
- Visit your children’s classrooms during school hours. They LOVE it because it shows them that you care about their lives. Remember, this is their life 9 months out of the year. It also shows that you value a Christian education, and it will carry over to your children in their perspective of school. It is one of the best ways to help them understand the blessing of a Christian education. Encourage them to keep going, even if the lessons seem difficult to you. Teach them at home that doing their best is important, not just a passing grade where they can slide into the next grade! Dads, if your wife is bringing hot lunch and it works for you to stop in to eat as well, you will make your child’s day!
- Exercise much caution in taking your child out of school. Vacations should be taken when school vacations are given. It’s disruptive to their learning and brings an increase to the teacher’s workload. A lot of teachers may not be local, and parents would be appalled if the teacher just went on vacation whenever they felt like it.
- Teach your children at an early age that the heart that gave a gift is more important than the gift itself. A teacher that has 20+ students cannot afford buying expensive Christmas and birthday gifts. A lot of Mennonite schools do not pay for Art projects, so money comes out of a teacher’s pocket there too depending on what it is. I have heard of Mennonite children who thought that a gift that they received at school wasn’t enough. I’m sure Dad and Mom would cringe if they knew their child said that but maybe not spending extravagantly on them at home would help that situation! This is not a pity party for teachers. A teacher teaches because he/she enjoys it, not because of the salary!
- While teachers enjoy cards, small gifts, snacks, lunches, school visits, etc. throughout the year as appreciation tokens, support and communication are so much more a gift!
This compilation of ideas is brought to you by the teachers of Zion Christian School who bring a combined 64 years of teaching in 12 different schools. ZCS has 119 students in grades K-8 and is a patron supported school located in Daviess County, IN. Comments of appreciation can be sent to Jesse Rhodes at firstname.lastname@example.org