Parenting is the most difficult job you will ever have and, while trying to do your very best at all times, you will make mistakes. We all do. I know I make mistakes every single day, and the mistakes I’ve made with my oldest child far trump the mistakes I’ve made with my second and third children. We learn as we go. As a teacher and a parent, I want to offer some advice to parents when it comes to school and schoolwork, so you can avoid making common mistakes.
1. Over Scheduling –Setting kids up for not one but four or five activities a week is way too much, especially for those first few years of full-day school. Kids need a break, big time. Downtime is fine, necessary and needed. And though we all want our kids to be well-rounded, happy young human beings, there’s no research that says kids need to be busy 24/7 in order to live fulfilled lives.
2. Not supporting kids–All kids, though they may need a break after they get home from school, want their parents to play an active role in their lives. They want to tell parents about their day. They need parents to help them process the good parts of their day and their more challenging parts.
Kids need to learn from a parent how to properly manage homework. They need parents to sit near them, help them through assignments and help them plan for upcoming projects. Even big kids—middle and high school—should have their binders and assignment books monitored by parents. Children carry heavy workloads, and time management is extremely difficult for many of them.
Parents need to be confident in their ability to support their children. Parents are their child’s first teachers—they taught their little ones how to eat, sleep, walk and talk—so it is natural and normal for parents to continue helping and teaching as children grow.
3. Not communicating with teachers–Success in school is a partnership between parents and teachers. Teachers need parents’ help in order to most effectively reach children, and parents need teachers’ help in order to most effectively parent their children. It must be a two-way street, and children need to know this.
And because of that, parents need to know that it is OK, permissible, encouraged and embraced when parents reach out to teachers. There doesn’t have to be a reason—it can be a quick check-in now and again. Just ask how the child is doing and if there is anything the parent can do to help the teacher in the classroom or the student at home.
It’s easy and simple, and the teacher will be grateful and the child will be happy. The parent will make it clear from the outset that he or she views the teacher as a partner—and together you’re a team supporting the child.
What am I missing? Is there something you’d add to this list? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below, connect with Sylvan on facebook or find Amy on Twitter, @teachmama, and let’s continue the conversation!