A good parent-teacher relationship is important for making the most of the school year. Yet so many parents fail to communicate with their child’s teacher properly, or worse, say or do something to damage the relationship. We asked Sydney primary school teacher, Elyse Pitcher, to reveal the 10 things every teacher wished parents knew to help you be the ‘best parent in class’.
1. Have a set morning routine
Kids thrive on routine and a structured morning routine will set your child up for the day says Elyse, adding that it should always include a big, nutritious breakfast. “If your usual routine includes television, just be aware that children who watch TV in the morning are not in the right frame of mind for school. Instead, give your child responsibilities to increase their independence, such as making their beds or packing their own bags,” Elyse recommends.
2. Be on time every time
Elyse says teachers love parents who respect bell times explaining that being late to school means your child walks into a lesson that is already underway. “It is embarrassing for your child and it can take them a while to settle down and focus on the lesson,” she says.
3. Chill out and don’t be so defensive
Elyse says while she understands it’s easy to get defensive if a teacher tells you your child is falling behind in a certain area, it’s important to remember that it’s bound to happen at sometime in every child’s education. She advises before reacting defensively, parents take a breath and really listen to what the teacher is telling them, so that they can both work together to help bring your child up to speed with the rest of the class.
4. Know your child’s timetable
Yes, you are busy, but so is your child. According to Elyse, your child will feel more comfortable about school if you are on top of their routine. She advises you have a weekly calendar with everything that is on at school, such as library day, sports day, mufti days, and project due dates.
5. Think about what you share with your child
“Some parents talk about how they don’t want their baby to start school or go on camp because they will miss them. Children take these things literally,” says Elyse, who advises parents not to put their worries on their child. “Your anxieties become their anxieties,” she says. “Talk about it later with your partner and save your tears until then.”
6. Keep an open mind
As kids are not developed enough mentally to take in all perspectives of an event, Elyse asks parents to keep an open mind when children are telling them about a school incident. “You may hear a story from them about something that happened at school. If it upsets you, ask questions and think about what seems to make the most sense,” she says, advising that if you are still unhappy, talk to your child’s teacher about it.
7. A thank you goes a long way!
“Teachers often say that we never see a parent unless they have a problem with something,” says Elyse. “We always love a smile, a wave, or a quick chat with parents.”
8. Teachers wear many hats but can’t be responsible for everything
Primary school teachers are responsible for many different jobs and teach a range of different subjects. But they are not responsible for everything to do with your child, says Elyse, adding that they are not qualified doctors, speech therapists, or nutritionists so try not to take offense if they refer your child to someone with more specific knowledge.
9. Homework is not a way for teachers to get back at parents
Homework, if given out correctly, is the consolidation of the week’s lessons. According to Elyse, you and your child’s teacher should use it as a method of monitoring your child’s progress. “If your child struggles, or finds the homework too easy, let the teacher know, because homework can be modified.”
10. The teacher is on your side
Elyse emphasizes that teachers care about your child and have their best interests at heart. “They teach because they love children.” Yes, even yours.