Schools invariably set rules for pupils but what if they could make some for parents too? In the interests of enhancing parent-teacher relationships, we asked teachers what they wish they could tell us to make the job of teaching and looking after our children easier.
Here's what they said...
"First and foremost, remember that at the end of the day, everyone wants the same thing – happy children who are learning."
"I'm in teaching because I love children, despite my grumblings sometimes. I want to help children and I want them to be happy in school. If this is your first assumption, we'll get on heaps better."
"Don't assume the teacher wants to discuss your child's day at the end of every day! There simply isn't time, if there's an issue I'm sure they'll let you know."
"If there are new problems at home, let the teacher know. They should treat all information in confidence and home problems often lead to a child having difficulties at school, so knowing about them can help teachers make adjustments for your child."
"Don't automatically believe everything your child tells you and, in turn, we won't believe everything they say about you!"
"If you don't believe everything your child says about school, I promise not to believe everything he tells me about home."
"Remember teachers might have 29 other children to deal with (assuming they're in a typical state primary class of 30 pupils) and not just your little darling. Of course every child is important but sometimes we have to consider others too." "Pick your timing carefully when you need to talk to the teacher – some times of the day aren't ideal. Generally it's not good idea to grab teachers just as children are entering the classroom – as instead of them coming in calmly, they start to get louder and louder (just like at home when you are on the phone)."
"Try and find out their preferred time and way to discuss things – perhaps via a home school diary if there is one, email or in person."
"Teachers do appreciate being informed if you're disgruntled by anything rather than parents gossiping between themselves and spreading rumours. Sometimes it's worth going through the class PTA rep."
"If there's something you're not happy about, speak to the teacher first rather than going to the head/ head of year straight away."
"If you've got a problem, come and see me first, going straight to the head is just rude. Next time I have a problem with little Johnny and your parenting of him I'll ring your boss and see how you like it."
Try and understand modern teaching methods:
"Showing them your way of doing division might hinder, not help them, if they are being taught a different way at school."
"Try not to obsess over which reading group/ table/ reading level your child is on but do come and ask if it's concerning you."
"The Oxford Reading Tree is NOT a competitive sport. And no, we didn't name them those silly names either - you ain't pinning Kipper on us! (one of the few bizarre names I haven't had to teach yet come to think of it)"
"I am not holding your child back by choosing "easy" books for them, that is the correct level for your child!"
"Read with them and to them at home as much as you can."
"Don't stop listening to them read at home, just because they are capable of decoding and reading to a reasonable level (and sometimes before they are at a reasonable level)."
"Respect the fact foundations have to be in place. It's great that they know about prime numbers but if they can't do basic multiplication and division they can't and shouldn't race ahead."
"'Good writing' does not mean just good handwriting and 'good reading' not just reading the words on the page." There is more to both e.g. comprehending what they're reading."
"Homework is for children not parents and - if it's really beyond their capabilities let the teacher know."
Be careful about making negative comments about school work:
"Don't say I was never any good at maths either – it gives your child an excuse not to try."
"If you're going to buy a workbook for your child who is struggling - don't get them the one that says their age on the front, they will struggle with it."
"Don't assume your child's behaviour is the same at school as it is at home or that they couldn't possibly be behaving anything less than perfectly."
"Don't automatically jump to their defence if your little darling gets into trouble. If your child says 'Johnny did it, not me,' at least entertain the idea that they're lying to get out of trouble - children do this."
"They might not be telling 100 of the truth next time."
"Trust us to have found out what really happened and to have dealt with it appropriately. Similarly recognise that it isn't 'always the other child's fault' in altercations at school."
"If I call you in to talk to you about your child's behaviour then it is not "normal" for a child of their age - it is a concern"
AND ABOUT A FEW OTHER THINGS
Teachers are really grateful for Christmas and end of year presents but some said they particularly appreciate parents clubbing together to buy one decent one (ideally vouchers) rather than 30 candles or the like:
"I already have quite a few 'best ever teacher' mugs thanks!"
Please try to ensure children are well-rested for school:
"Make your child go to bed at a reasonable time...no...not just in their room out of your way watching TV/playing on the computer, but asleep."
Label everything with your child's name if you want it back!
"It's pretty busy during the school day so I can't keep track of every sweatshirt/ cardigan/ piece of PE kit in my class. We all have dedicated members of the lost jumper brigade who cannot understand why I don't know where little Wayne has left his belongings or why I can't recognise little Wendy's navy cardi ('her name's not in it but it's from Marks')"
"We want the same things they do for their child, at times we may have to tell them things they don't want to hear, but ultimately it's because we care about their child's happiness and progress."
"When we go on a trip do not pack your child a lunch which consists of chocolate and sweets - I don't like cleaning vomit up."
"Wash your children's clothes - once a term is not enough, it's disgusting."
"Offer to help in school if you can - read with us, join in with art lessons, help in the garden etc. Become part of our school!"
"Lots of us are parents too and all of us are human!!!!!"
Liat Hughes Joshi is author of Raising Children: The Primary Years, published November 2011.
What would you like to tell teachers back (politely please!)?
Have a look at what parents want to say to teachers.
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