Ten things teachers wish parents knew

Teachers undoubtedly have one of the hardest jobs in the world.

It’s important that parents, once in a while, put themselves in the shoes of teachers to gain a sense of how challenging their working day can be. If we partner more successfully with teachers, we can help deliver better learning outcomes for our children.

Let’s look at some of the key things that teachers wish parents knew, in the hope that we can make the most of the parent-teacher partnership.

Get the facts before you react
Sometimes parents go into attack mode when their child complains about a teacher or a classroom situation. Give your teacher the benefit of the doubt. Try to put emotions aside and find out the facts before you react.

Don’t go over a teacher’s head
Often parents take a problem straight to the principal – or gossip with other parents. Gossip is damaging and sets the wrong behavioural example for your child.

It’s important to respect the chain of command, talk to your teacher in the first instance. If you have an issue that is not resolved to your satisfaction with your teacher, then you might consider going to the principal. But in most cases, if you’re open to hearing facts and having a sensible dialogue, issues can be resolved directly with your child’s teacher.

Respect your teacher and their view
Remember that the teacher is on your side. Teachers genuinely care for your children and are working towards their success. 

Trust in the teacher’s feedback – even if you’re hearing something about your child that you don’t like. A child can exhibit very different behaviours at home than in the classroom. Listen to what the teacher has to say and work with him/her to find a solution.

Give feedback when things are good
Parents are quick to get in touch over problems, but often remain silent when things are going beautifully. An email or phone call when you have some positive feedback can go a long way. 

It can be a much needed morale booster when teachers or principals hear some positive feedback. So if your child enjoys a class event or school festival, say so. If you have an exceptional teacher at your school, why not nominate them for an award?

Get involved and get to know your teacher
The relationship between teachers and parents is often key to student success. Unfortunately, many parents go through the school year without communicating with the teacher or understanding what’s needed to make the most of the year. 

Remember that communication is a two-way street between parent and teacher. Be sure to make yourself known to your teacher – and not just on parent/teacher interview nights. Take the time to introduce yourself early in the year and keep in touch at regular intervals. 

Keep the learning going
Learning doesn’t stop when the home-time bell sounds. One of the best ways you can help your child is to stay abreast of homework and encourage them to discuss what they’re working on at school. This helps build confidence in your child and reinforces what is being taught in the classroom. 

Help your child be organise
Keep up with school notices and permission slips that need to be returned. Encourage your child to hang up their bag and empty their backpack as part of their after-school routine. Two simple letter trays to place homework to be done and school notices can help.

Keep home a haven
Cut down on chaos and clutter at home. If your home life is disorganised, this can carry over into the classroom and make learning more difficult for your child. Keeping a tidy home, an organised homework area and a clean bedroom can help your child feel more relaxed, prepared and focused for the day ahead.

Understand that mistakes are ok
Being at school is all about learning, so your child is not expected to know it all.

“Some parents set such high expectations that they can end up damaging confidence,” says Stephanie, a Melbourne based teacher.

“It’s important to avoid putting too much pressure on a child.”

“Some projects look great but it’s easy to see which ones are truly the result of the children working independently – and that’s something we’d much rather see because the student feels full ownership of their work.” 

Address behavioural issues at home
Let’s face it – most children are not perfect and will, at times, have behavioural issues that need to be addressed at home. It’s only in a parent’s nature to automatically jump to the defense of their child, but ultimately you might not be helping if this means that valuable life-lessons are being overlooked. 

by Jenny Mina