I hope you were fully entertained by last week's blog on 'Are You An Annoying Class Parent?' . Over the last week I rounded up a number of teachers from different schools, states and countries, and asked them what makes an awesome class parent. There are plenty of humorous teacher jokes out there about how easy the job is and that most of the day is spent cutting, painting, gluing and babysitting. Cam my husband found it easy to wind me up using them but did notice how much out of hours work was put into making sure the children are given the best opportunities for learning and achieving outcomes. Many parents would assume when the bell rings that's the end of the day for a teacher and not to mention how many weeks of school holidays they get off. Well it's not like that in the slightest and teaching, as rewarding as it is, is pretty tough and exhausting.
Becoming a parent and joining the other side of the classroom window, I have been pretty amazed and blessed by the teachers my kids have had so far. Jack is such an easy going kid but can worry a lot, especially about change. When he took one look at the school starting Kindy, he was like seeya later guys! I will never forget walking up to his classroom to pick him up from his meet the teacher hour and seeing him hugging his teacher and telling her how fast he can run with so much excitement on his face. Jack needed another mum. Not a teacher to keep him in line or let him get away with everything. Not a teacher who was there just as the teacher and nothing else. He needed a proper caring, nurturing mumma teacher and that's exactly who he got. Naturally I fell in love with her too!
Eva starting school was a completely different experience. She was confident and all like just drop me at the kiss and drop zone and I will find the classroom on my own. She had spent her last few years with serious separation anxiety and had this major turn around with beginning school now that she was grown up. I was desperately hoping for a teacher that was someone she adored to make her want to enjoy and be at school everyday. Well she got just that and constantly tells everyone she's going to be a teacher like hers when she grows up!
So as a parent, of course you want that to continue for your kids. I know you have to take in consideration that there are other children in the class to one teacher but you obviously don't love them like you love your own so naturally want the best for your child. There is nothing wrong with wanting that and in fact you can actually help to ensure that happens. Do you want the best for your children when it comes to education? Do you want positive communication and a good relationship between you and the teacher? Well it's easier than you think and below is a list, thanks to my teacher mates of how you can be an awesome class parent to make you and your child's year at school an awesome one!
How To Be An Awesome Class Parent And Helper
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Put your life on hold for the first 6 months. Sounds extreme but each and every night reviewing sounds and reading a book...pointing out a couple of sight words - an invaluable investment
Don't pressure for a "what did you do today?" Just ask "what was the best thing today?" Be prepared, and accept the answer to be, lunch!
Remember the teacher is a human - they have a life and often family - don't dismiss them as "just a teacher" if they share part of their life with you celebrate it - i.e having a baby or getting married. For me as a teacher away from family when I had my first baby, many of the parents were so kind in word and gift to me and I really appreciated it.
Praise them when they do good things - don't let your only contact with the teacher be negative!
Be prepared to hear more than your child's side of the story when something goes wrong.
If something happens to your cherub at school don't automatically assume it is correct, or that your cherub is the victim. Ask a few questions and then let the teacher know - sometimes it's the first they hear of it. Give them time to research. Beware of using the word bully. It is an emotive word and doesn't just mean being nasty or getting hurt. The word 'bully' is bandied around and it shouldn't be - bullying is persistent and consistent- not a one off.
Go into parent teacher interviews with an open mind and sometimes what your child says and what the teacher discusses can be two different things. Just remember, the teacher is doing all they can and your child needs to put in the effort as much as the teacher is.
Offer to help in the classroom, little things like mounting artwork or cutting out make a huge difference.
Teachers get sick too (and so do their own children) be mindful of the fact that sometimes teachers need to take a day or two to get better.
Most teachers will happily talk to parents at the end of the day - at the door when you are heading into the classroom. At the beginning of the day is not the best time to ask a 'quick question'.
If a teacher is offered a promotion opportunity be happy for them, it's not that they don't love their class or what they do, it's because they're good at what they do!
Don't be a school yard gossip. If it doesn't concern your child you shouldn't really be talking about other people's kids! If you have a concern, make a time to chat to the teacher - first thing in the morning is not the best time, usually!
Send a thank you or a little treat the day after parent teacher interviews... Working an 8 hour day with kids, then talking back to back to parents for another 4+ hours, with no break, and being bright and bubbly the next morning for another 8 hour day with your cherubs... It's a tough slog!
And we love to have chats with the cherubs at the shop on a Sunday.... but it doesn't need to be in depth... hello will do
Send in box of tissues, wet wipes, bag of disposable spoons and forks. Otherwise it is us who is buying it.
Don't send in loose change. Pop it in a named envelope or zip lock bag
Keep your kids home when they are sick!!
Help your child/ren build skills around managing their belongings, time and commitments better. Don't do/carry/plan everything for them. We learn life's biggest lessons by making mistakes not by always succeeding. Let your child/ren make mistakes and learn from them. Don't make excuses for them.
Label EVERYTHING! Uniform, lunch/snack boxes, water bottles etc. Particularly in big schools, it's very hard to track down missing items when they're not labelled with names & classes.
Don't worry about the reading levels/colour bands of other children in the class & compare your child's ability progress to them. Not only listen to your child read regularly but discuss the book with them & ask them questions to help develop their comprehension. Trust that the teacher will use their professional judgement to move them up a level when they are ready- which does not only mean that they can read the words!
Like the last comment, encourage independence at home with things like getting changed, getting bags ready for school with the right equipment needed for each day. Makes a world of difference in the classroom & makes things a LOT easier for the teacher.
Make the effort to 'be on time' to school. Continuously being late can mean important information missed and embarrassment for you and your child.
Yes it is nice to get face to face time with the teacher, however emailing is a good option too.
Don't give younger students a lunch box that they would definitely not be able to finish. At times, food can be an overwhelming thing for children and therefore make lunch time a distressful time.
If your child has brought in a birthday cake, please bring napkins or plates. Makes the teachers life an easier one.
No child is perfect! Don't take advice from a teacher as criticising, they are purely just trying to improve / guide / encourage different ways of doing things.
Try and remember each child is an individual so if your child isn't reading the same level it's ok.
All teachers are different and each child learns different things from different teachers . Try and see the positives in what the teacher is doing rather than always looking for negatives or something to criticise .
Pack a healthy lunchbox and give your little person breakfast.
If you keep arriving late - be the adult. Something obviously isn't working, yelling won't help. Set YOUR alarm 20 minutes earlier.
Comments like "When I was at school I didn't read either" or "I was never good at Maths either" promotes a fixed mindset. Parents need to help their children realise that trying is the most important thing and that they can achieve success if they work hard. Ban the word "can't".
High school students: ensure there is a quiet space students can work and complete homework without distractions.
Parents looking in the windows 20 minutes before school ends and waving can be so distracting when we are finishing off last bits and pieces and getting ready for end of day routine.
If you are a parent and you don't like the homework because you feel there's too much for your child *remember* there are several parents of the same class that are complaining because they feel there's not enough homework. If you child can't complete homework because of all their after school commitments, fine, just prioritise and do what's most important for your child to practise. Or better yet, meet with the teacher and make arrangements for your child to do a modified, lesser amount each week. Doing a little less marking of homework each week won't break us!
If the homework uses a term that you are not familiar with like 'area' or 'perimeter' and for some strange reason your child can't tell you what it means - please don't write a letter or email asking the teacher for information about what this word means. What a waste of our time that can be better used. Self-solve this problem and Google it.
If there's something your child has told you that you don't like or disagree with, don't vent on social media bagging the teachers and school. Ask the teacher, as kids often get the story wrong or in my case lie to their parents! Have the conversation with friends or partners in private. Don't have the chat in front of the kids
Take the time to have a chat... just about life and stuff. Engage with your teacher as if they are a real person.
Thanks to all the teachers that helped write this list. I hope this can give you some really good perspective as class parents about how to have a great relationship with your teacher and give your child the best opportunities for learning xx
©The Realistic Mum
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If you love children’s books then I have written a lovely little book on clouds changing into different shapes that you can find on Amazon and iTunes. Look for the title Look At The Clouds, What Can You See?