Teachers spend more time with our children than we do. That’s the reality of today’s education.
And there’s nothing wrong with that. After all, teachers are what makes the world go round. Without my teachers, I wouldn’t be writing this blog post right now, I wouldn’t be living with a roof over my head, and I wouldn’t have the means or ability to provide for my family.
I fondly remember my time spent with my school teachers from primary school to high school. Or rather, I remember just how much time and effort they put into ensuring that I received a good education, despite the fact that I rebelled 99% of the time. They cared and they showed it, and even when they didn’t always show it, I know they still cared enough to show up every day and do what most human beings on earth are incapable of doing – teaching children. It is not as easy as it may sound.
With this in mind, it’s sad to see how poorly some parents support their child’s teacher. Back in the ‘good old days’, parents would always side with the teacher. I would never tell my father if I received some good ol’ corporal punishment in school, because if he found out, he’d give me another lashing at home.
These days, parents’ attitudes towards teachers goes something like this: “What did YOU say to my child to MAKE him swear at you?”. Or “If my daughter is rebelling in class then it’s the teachers fault”.
Parents place far too much trust in their child, and far too little trust in the teacher.
We take criticism of our child very personally. Almost as if the teacher is somehow criticising us as parents for having a child that misbehaves.
Wake up call parents: generally speaking, your child acts totally differently when you’re not around. Think Johnny has the sweetest vocabulary? Or Jill could never, ever talk back to an adult? Think again. Or quite simply put, think back to your own days at school. You were not perfect. Your child is not perfect. And guess what? That’s perfectly OK!
You just need to be aware of the above fact, and be aware that your child’s teacher is a human being with feelings.
Here are a few ways in which you can start showing your child’s teacher that you respect the work he or she is doing. After all, they are the ones spending the most time with your child and you can either support that, or make it an uphill struggle.
1. Volunteer your time
Yes, we’re all busy parents. But even 30 minutes of your time is appreciated by your child’s teacher, even if it’s only once or twice in a year. Schools have a multitude of activities that require extra assistance like sports days, reading programmes, field trips (excursions) and more.
Email or speak to your child’s teacher to find out what’s coming up on the calendar and then commit to help out at one or two events. And remember, when you commit, you commit. There’s nothing worse than pulling out at the last minute. Don’t teach your child that it’s OK to be a fader.
2. Get involved
How do you feel when your boss asks you to stay late after work for a meeting? Well, this is the same for teachers and PTA meetings. Except it makes it worse when parents don’t even bother to show up at these meetings.
PTA meetings are the ideal time for you to discuss your child’s progress with his or her teacher. Go to meetings, and be on time. Your child’s teacher will really appreciate this.
3. Be supportive
No, your Johnny or Suzy is not God’s gift to the world, despite what you think. Your child has the ability to lie, to be disrespectful, and to shirk their responsibilities. They are little human beings. Just like adults are not perfect, neither are children.
If your child gets into trouble at school, it’s because they have done something wrong. Don’t curse the teacher for disciplining your child. If you genuinely believe your child’s version of the story, then speak to your child’s teacher in private, without telling your child at this stage. Get all the facts before placing any blame on the teacher. Teach your child to respect authority. After all, if they don’t respect their teachers, there is no way they will ever respect you as a parent.
4. Be kind and understanding
Don’t you secretly love it when your boss pats you on the back for doing good work? Or when a fellow colleague puts a chocolate on your desk just to be nice? Well teachers appreciate those things too. And they really appreciate when it comes from the parents of the children they teach.
A few kind words in an email goes a long way to boosting a teacher’s self-esteem, just like it would in any other profession.
Likewise, it’s important to remember that teachers can also have bad days. Just like you, they also have children of their own, husbands or wives, families and expenses. You might be struggling to cope at work, and it’s no different for teachers. With the amount of admin that is required of them from the Department of Education, it’s a miracle that we still have so many good quality teachers left. So be understanding. Teachers have needs too, just like everyone else.
5. Communicate, and work as a team
Just like your child knows that you perform a critical role in their life as their parent, so should they also know that their teachers also perform a critical role. Stay in regular contact with your child’s teacher. Email has made it very easy to do so. And importantly, when your child’s teacher contacts you with a concern or a request, don’t take weeks to reply. Treat communication from your child’s teacher as a priority.
Make sure that your children know that you consider their teachers as part of the team that will nurture and protect their futures. Without teachers, we’d be nowhere.
6. Suggest and share
Sadly, many schools are under-resourced and under-staffed. Teachers are highly trained individuals, but with only one set of eyes and so much work to complete in a year, it can be a challenge for teachers to keep abreast of the latest tools and resources that could help them be more efficient and ultimately give more individual attention to your child.
If you’re using a particular resource (other than what the school provides) that is really helping your child improve results, then let your child’s teacher know about it. Share ideas and resources that you come across with your child’s teacher. Teachers love things that they can include in their lessons like Youtube videos, slide shows, audio podcasts and more.
I also recommend taking a look at WorksheetCloud. We provide a range of high quality online and printable worksheets and practice exams based on the South African CAPS curriculum, that parents and teachers are using to help their children study.
Are you a teacher? How can parents help you? Share your comments below. I personally read and respond to every comment.