Surprising things teachers want parents to know


As summer break winds down and we get ready to restart the school routine, I often wonder – what are teachers thinking about this time of year? What one piece of advice would they share with us parents, or what is it that we just don’t “get” about back-to-school time?

After informally polling my teacher friends, I got some surprising comments. One I am super guilty of is being too lax in the early days of the new school year – simply skimming over assignments and teacher letters, just assuming my kids are bringing home everything I need to see and/or sign. “Take stake in your kid’s future,” one teacher advised.

“It’s easier to have strict rules in the beginning (regarding homework) then have the student earn privileges based on results rather than the other way around,” recommended another. Mind. Blown.

Another thing: It’s easy to get wrapped up in our own kids’ needs and wants and forget the less fortunate among us. Clothes and supplies can put a hefty strain on an already stretched-thin family budget. Some advice? “Go school shopping with your child and pick up some extras for your child’s classroom. There will be kids that come without anything. It’s a good lesson for your kids, too.”

“Not everyone had a great summer or went away on vacation or got brand-new back-to-school clothes. Parents should remind kids to listen rather than brag … to be nice instead of judge.”

Other suggestions:

  • “Don’t ‘rescue’ middle/high school kids if they forgot something at home. It’s their responsibility, their consequence.”
  • “Everybody’s attitude determines how things go. Getting a child excited about going back is so important.”
  • “Dress for success. Talk about some outfit ideas and why it’s important to dress appropriately for school.”
  • “Start putting them to bed a little earlier each night so the night before school isn’t so tough.”
  • From a preschool teacher: “Please don’t send 3- and 4-year-olds to school in tie shoes! Velcro only, please!”
  • “Raising an empathetic child is 10 times more important than increasing their test scores.”
  • “Education is a team effort. Don’t just drop your kids off at school. Engage. Be active. Volunteer.”
  • “Don’t ignore behavior issues. Teachers aren’t police or counselors. So if there are issues, be willing to seek help for your child.”

The last item was a common theme: This is a busy time for teachers, who didn’t just soak up the sun all summer, reading books and drinking margaritas. “Most teachers spend hours and hours thinking about next year and preparing curriculum or classroom atmosphere,” one said.

Another wrote: “Realize teachers have lives outside of the school, and yet they dedicate many outside hours to their job.”

After a full summer at home with my kids, I can tell you – we appreciate you, teachers, for all you do for our students! This grateful mother promises to be appreciative all year.

Do you have back-to-school advice for parents? Leave a note in the comments!

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Laura is a small-town Wisconsin girl who’s made her home in De Pere for the last 15 years. She has a journalism degree from UW-Oshkosh and works as a copy editor and freelance writer when she’s not working on a novel, running, or teaching yoga. Her family includes her husband, two daughters at home, and an adult stepson and daughter-in-law, both of whom serve our country in the U.S. Marine Corps. What I love most about living in this area: Visiting the Brown County libraries, running on the Fox River Trail and cheering for the Green Bay Packers!