At the start of the school year when getting to know the parents in my class, I would always tell them “Once a child is in my class, they have a special place in my heart and they are my child forever.” As teachers, we go over and beyond for our students. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise to parents that we have a ‘wish list’ of things we would love for parents to do with our children.
I contacted my teacher friends near and far to get their ‘wish list’ items and the results were just spot-on. Thanks teacher friends for your input!
Counting down from 10, here’s a list of wishes from our dedicated teachers:
10. Label Everything!
I wish parents would label ALL pieces of school clothing, lunchboxes, stationery, EVERYTHING! There are more than a couple hundred identical items in the classroom at the same time. Permanent marker works well, but nothing beats good old-fashioned sew-on labels for darker colour items, eg swimming costumes and hats.
In addition to labelling everything, you also need to teach your child how to be responsible for their belongings. It is physically impossible for teachers to walk around behind your children picking up their stuff to make sure it goes back home for a safe return tomorrow. BMS and My Label Lady both do lovely customized labels.
9. Teach listening skills
I wish parents could teach their children to listen attentively. We learnt the most by listening, but many children these days do not have that skill. They need to be able to listen to instructions and follow them. A strategy often used in classrooms is “Stop-Look-Listen”.
If you have asked your child to take their plate to the kitchen after a meal and they instantly run off in another direction, get them to ‘stop, look at you and listen’ and then repeat the instruction. Make sure you have your child’s attention before you give an instruction or you’ll just be wasting your time.
Listening skills are essential in a classroom environment with the constant hustle and movement. The Ministry of Education of Guyana has some great tips for parents. Have a read of their tips here.
8. Take The Pressure Off
I wish parents would remember that their children are still little. Putting too much pressure on your children can cause frustration and confusion, for all parties involved. The more anxiety you remove from your child’s school life, the happier they will be. Ensure that there’s a balance between academics, co-curricular and free play. Our children live in an extremely stressful world and society. We need to allow them to be children; to play and be free.
7. Model Good Behavior And Be Involved
I wish parents would lead by example. Show your children the importance of being involved with their school by being involved and contributing to school events. If the school sends out a newsletter, read it. When there’s a sports event, bake sale or donation drive, get involved. If you can’t personally do it, get your family to attend assemblies or sports events.
When you’re enthusiastic and excited about what’s going on within your child’s school community, they will follow suit and show an increased interest in school. Encourage that they take part in the afternoon programme. Just as importantly, remind your child that it’s not always about winning, it’s about participating and being a part of a team, representing their school. Team spirit all the way!
I wish parents would accept that homework is their responsibility as much as it is the child’s. School and homework go hand-in-hand. Monitor and check homework daily. Set expectations, standards and routines with your child. It’s not just about checking that homework is accurate and completed.
Showing a keen interest in your child’s learning is invaluable, not just by creating a positive love for learning, but also to build a relationship of encouragement and sharing between parent and child. For more about homework, read our earlier post about Homework Diaries: A Teachers Perspective.
5. Read Aloud To Your Children
As a teacher, I wish that parents would make time to sit and read aloud to their children more. “Read, read, read! Read in the kitchen, read at the zoo, read to your child while they’re sitting on the loo!” The importance of hearing the voice of an adult is vital in the development stages of young children. We can’t stress this enough to parents, and we know that you know reading is important, so please do it! If you’re looking for more tips have a look at Raising A Reader: 15 Tips From Priyanka
4. Respect And Boundaries
I wish parents could just argue or fight away from the innocent kids as this unsettles them. It makes them worry. Their minds start racing thinking about the likelihood of separation, divorce, etc. Often children who see and hear their parents arguing think that they had something to do with why their parents are disagreeing. They even spend time contemplating how to make their parents happy again.
Basically, focus and energy shifts from their work to family problems. Respect your children and your relationship with your spouse enough to keep adult discussions private and ‘behind closed doors’.
Also on respect, teach your children to respect others. Respect you, their siblings, adults, teachers, and their friends. Teach them to respect different religions, people of different races and ethnicity.
Just as importantly, teach your children to respect themselves.
“Respect is the core value of civil society; and that’s also the core value in every healthy, functioning family.” – Michael Grose, founder of Parenting Ideas
I wish parents would engage with their children when decisions need to be made, whether big or small. Big decisions could be where to go on your next family holiday or which school they want to go to. Smaller decisions could be what to have for dinner, what they want to do for their birthday party theme, etc. Don’t just consider their ideas, give their ideas and opinions a ‘voice’ – actual credibility and talk them through. https://www.naturalchild.org has some interesting ideas on how to promote agency.
2. Communication Is Key
I wish parents would sit and talk with their children. Discuss their day, things their teacher asked them and what they did with their friends at breaktime. Find out how they feel about things. Listening to your kids helps build a trust relationship and confidence between parents and children. Talking to your child is also the best way to find out what they’re happy or unhappy about, be it at home or at school and you can then tackle any worrying issues. Check out these 30 questions to ask your child as opposed to “How was your day?”
Our biggest request from the teachers we spoke to was….
1. Spend More Quality Time With Your Kids
I wish parents would spend more time with their kids. Games night, movie night, family outings, baking together, gardening together…these are all easy ways to spend time with your children. Be creative! Buy a puzzle that’s slightly too hard for your child and work on it with them. Go for a walk around the block one evening (with or without the dogs). Play hide and seek. Every kid loves to see their parents involved in what they’re doing. It makes them feel secure and loved. #FamilyQualityTime. If you’re looking for more ideas of places to go have a look at our directory for an idea of a day out.
BONUS: We Are On The Same Team
I wish parents would remember that WE are ultimately on the same team. As parents and teachers, we have the same goal…a happy child. As your child’s teacher, my best interest is the holistic development of your child. Believe me when I share my observations of the character and behaviour of your child at school. Teaching is a profession that is based on passion. My aim is to help your child flourish.
I am passionate about education in Botswana. With ten years of experience teaching in primary schools in Botswana, I have a love for learning and working with students of all ages. I am the Director of Re A Bua Setswana Academy, teaching conversational Setswana to children and adults. I am the founder of Smart Chalk Consulting where our mission is to create opportunities for teachers within primary schools to grow and improve their instructional practices.
I look forward to connecting with new families and organisations, through offering coaching, workshops, tutoring and much more. For any education-related inquiries, contact me via email.