An Insider’s Glimpse Into Parent Thinking
I hate homework. I hate it more now than I did when I was the one lugging textbooks and binders back and forth from school. The hour my children are seated at the kitchen table, their books spread out before them, the crumbs of their after-school snack littering the table is without a doubt the worst hour of my day.~Ayelet Waldman
As a teacher and parent, I often struggled with talking to my children’s teachers, especially about homework. Just like other parents, I often said, “Didn’t your teacher teach you this?” Then there’s my personal favorite kid comment, “My teacher said we have to do it this way.”
There were few advantages to my insider knowledge of education. In fact, being a teacher often inhibited communication between my kids’ teachers and me. There were many things I wish I had told my children’s teachers. But, like many of you, I hesitated to share.
The challenge is this: parents are the experts on their own children and teachers are the experts on education. Even under the best of circumstances, occasionally the needs of each conflict.
Many of the misunderstandings between parents and teachers occur because of different philosophies, experiences, and expectations. No family is exactly alike.
Since teachers and parents bring different experiences and values to the table, they are likely to experience conflict. After all, the parent and teacher relationship is an arranged marriage– so to speak. And, there are no family counseling sessions to attend when the road gets rocky.
Teaching is one of the hardest jobs in the world—second only to parenting. It’s an understatement to say that both parents and teachers share a huge responsibility in molding the world’s future.
Therefore, as long as parents and teachers are in it together, it would be best for both to reach across the isle in an attempt to communicate and understand each other.
Over the years, I’ve heard parents express things they wish teachers knew about family life. I, as a parent, have said many of the same things.
I realize that many teachers already know and understand parent’s perspectives. If you do, please view these thoughts as gentle reminders.
Below are four things parents want teachers to keep in mind.
1. Family life is busy.
We want to support our children’s education as much as possible, but sometimes it’s hard to fit everything in. We’re trying to balance work, meals, lessons, sports, family time, laundry—you get the picture.
Please remember this the next time we don’t get that permission slip signed and returned in one night. Or, when my child’s project is one day late because I couldn’t get to the store to purchase necessary materials.
2. You can make or break my child’s self-esteem with your words and actions.
You hold an incredible amount of power over children’s self-confidence and belief in their ability to succeed. Please remember every day that your students are watching, listening, and discovering their sense of value through your eyes.
3. Children always know whether or not you like them.
Children are incredibly perceptive. We understand that you’re not going to like every child. However, we ask that you look past the negative behaviors and habits of your less-favorite students. Please remember that all children are precious, no matter the obstacles they may throw your way.
4. We want to be the parent, not the teacher.
Please assign homework for concepts students have mastered in school for homework. We don’t mind answering the occasional question, helping our kids study for tests, or even taking them to purchase supplies for projects. But, we don’t want to make those volcano experiments ourselves.
Most of us are not credentialed teachers. It’s difficult to take on the role of teacher and it sometimes impedes our relationship with our child. Please ensure my child knows the material well before sending it home for homework.
5. My child’s grades do not define him.
Children are wonderful little humans. Each child is unique in his or her special talents, interests, and abilities. Regardless of whether my child fits in the box of school, she is brilliant in her own way. Please allow her to be herself and shine in her own light.
Maintaining positive parent-teacher relationships is critical to the academic success of children. In the day-to-day juggling act of both parents and teachers, it’s important to remember there are two sides to every story.
In all fairness, I’ve also written about what teachers wished parents knew.
It is my hope that the more we talk and share , the more we will improve the educational experience of our nation’s children.
Do you have more thoughts or considerations you would like to share with teachers? If so, please share in the comment section below.