Have you ever been in a confronting or emotional situation when facing your child’s teacher? Here’s a positive message to both of you – WORK TOGETHER. YOU ARE ON THE SAME TEAM!
Being an elementary teacher and now a mother, my love of education and learning has recently changed focus from kindergarten literacy and numeracy to teaching my own child how to get by in this changing world. It has also lead me to remember how I sometimes thought I knew more than the parents of my students.
The Teacher Who Judged Before Becoming a Parent Herself
Tsk, tsk… teachers judging parents and parents judging teachers. No, that doesn’t happen!
On reflection of my years teaching before I was a mother, I have sometimes been a little hard on parents who are just trying to do the best for their child. Oh, I judged for the silliest things, like parents not packing a lunch their child would eat, parents being late in the morning (if only I knew the struggle), students not arriving in school uniform…
I judged parents for not helping their child complete their homework or for actually completing the homework for them – teachers can tell. I used to judge the parents who stayed too long in the classroom or those who didn’t make an effort to turn up to special events.
My justification for this behaviour was that, as a diligent teacher, I knew what was best for their child. Without children of my own, I thought about ‘my kids’ all day and all night. I was proud to be their first teacher and super proud when they had a light bulb moment or simply when they learned to find the classroom after play time.
I have keepsakes from my first kindergarten class that I treasure, because I really cared about the students and every time they grew or said, ”I love you,” my heart grew a little more. What I failed to realize was that it is parents that have the most influence on their child’s education and well-being. Plus, most parents care for the education, welfare and future of their child even MORE than I do.
Parents Aren’t Perfect
Do all parents know what they are doing? I sure don’t. I make decisions based on my own childhood, other people’s parenting and what I read on Google. Then I cross my fingers my child won’t be in therapy in the future, because of my parenting decisions.
At least when you are a teacher you are given initial and continuing education about the best ways to teach kids. Parents get thrown in the deep end!
A Teacher’s Apology
After my short time as a parent and teacher, I finally get it. I owe you an apology. Now I know, more often than not, parents are amazing, caring, conscientious individuals with almost no time to themselves, working as a team (or solo) to bring up the best child they can with the resources they have and create.
In some ways teachers and parents have a lot in common. We too have a love for your children, want them to succeed and care for their well-being. We want the best for all our students.
Now don’t get me wrong, this is not to say that teachers know best. My experience shows a combination of a diligent, listening teacher and a nurturing, open parent will together instill a love of learning. This, for me, is the ultimate goal.
I’ve thought hard about how to best equip my son and my kindergarten students with the skills they will need to interact with others, succeed in their chosen field and ultimately be happy and this is what I’ve come up with.
6 Tips for Positive Teacher/Parents Relationship
- Encourage independence and resilience in children
- Set boundaries for what you expect and stick to important decisions
- Remember to give children choices
- Speak up when something goes wrong
- Listen when a parent/teacher comes to you
- Follow up with parents/teachers
Teach them how to act when you aren’t around. Empower them to do small jobs, take responsibility for themselves and their belongings.
Children appreciate guides and predictability. Have you ever wondered why your child will do something for their teacher that they won’t do for you or visa-versa?
They are not all the same and need practice making simple choices. If a child is forced to behave like everyone else all of the time it would be a boring, grey world. Help children learn to decide.
Don’t let it fester, children pick up on this. (Communicate!)
Their concern has been worrying them enough to speak with you and needs your full attention. (Communicate!)
This will help show you have corrected or acted on a concern. (Communicate!)
You are a big influence in a child’s life, respect your power. When the relationship between teacher and parent is positive, so is the child’s learning experience. After all – The best gift you can give your child is a love of learning.