5 Things I Wish Teachers Knew About Parents

Posted September 23, 2010 by

Three weeks ago, I wrote an EP blog about what teachers wanted parents to know at the beginning of the school year.  My message was to encourage parents to try to stay out of the way, as your child and teacher settles into the new school year together.  I wrote the blog because I taught for eleven years and because I still teach teachers.  However, the teacher hat is not the one I wear most days.  My most important job is parenting our two grade school boys.  My oldest child has special needs and is often a daily challenge to parent.

At school, he is fairly well behaved and on task.  I try not to call the school very often. However, like many of us, I am an involved parent.  In order for me to keep tight boundaries on my oldest, I need more information from teachers and the school.  He also has ADHD, and needs more help with organization.  Therefore, I admit, I sometimes feel the teachers think I am overdoing it. However, it does prompt me to say there might be 5, 10, (or 50!) things we want teachers to know about parents like us.  Here are my top five.  What are yours?

1. We call because we do care. We would rather know what happened at school than not.  We do want to know what Junior is saying, doing, and thinking.  It really helps us anticipate and prevent future problems.

2. We did check the backpack, assignment notebook, and online homework. Unfortunately, the teacher still might not have it.  Why?  We just never know.  We saw the books go back into the backpack.  We signed the permission slips, twice.  It is a mystery how the homework, gym clothes, and library books cannot be located until our children have already left for school.

3. When you call to tell me about my child’s behavior and a subsequent incident or consequence, I have already talked to them about that behavior fifty times prior. We need more help from the school, more details, more assistance, and more tight boundaries.  We already know what we are battling; we want your help.  Talking to them is NOT enough.

4. We struggle after school. We really wish we knew why.  Is it because our children kept it together all day?  Because someone was mean to him or her?  Because they never understood half of the lessons?  Because the homework is too confusing?  Because we are safe havens?  Either way, we parents take the brunt of our children’s frustrations after school.

5. We share your hopes and beliefs in our children. When a table full of teachers at an IEP meeting all say they see a great kid,  we are buoyed.  We know that he’s a great kid.  He lives with us.  We realize at that moment the hard work we are doing with our children is working.  We thank you.  Without you, we would not be here.

I am grateful for the teachers who have taught my children.  I do wish they knew these facts about me.  I wonder what else teachers should know about parents like us?


Kim Stricker is a mom to two boys, an elementary school teacher, and freelance writer. She also writes a blog called lifeslikethis about the daily experiences of raising a child with Asperger’s and ADHD.

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  1. Udderlycrazy Report

    To veteran teacher: I know teachers are busy but your comment about not being able to fill out a folder with events of the day – that you can’t even go to the bathroom- well I am a nurse in a very large teaching hospital in NY and most of my days are without bathroom breaks as well. But I would never -nor could I even think of doing it- say I was just too busy to “change that patients dressing today”, or ” I’ll just have to start that antibiotic infusion late today- I just have too much going on”, or” I just can’t call that patients wife today with an update on how he is doing-I’m just too busy” or ” I can’t take mr smith for his walk around the unit today-god I haven’t even gotten a bathroom break today,”. Can you imagine being the loved one of a hospitalized patient who you find out is not re
    receiving the appropriate treatments they deserve and need to get better (antibiotics administered in timely manner, changing dressing so it doesn’tend up infected, taking pt for a walk to further his rehab progress,prevent him from developing a blood clot and pneumonia). I can continue to cite examples but hopefully I have been able to make my point. Thank you

  2. Veteranteacher Report

    1.I teach a SPED co-teach class-I have many involved parents, however, they almost always refuse to see their childs disruptions as his/her fault. They always blame other children for “making” their child misbehave. 2.There should be some sort of folder or agenda book to go back and forth-but who has time to record everything that happens during the day?
    Get real! With the time-on-task expectations we don’t even get to go to the RR.
    3.If the bullying has gone on this long, it’s time to see what the child is doing to bring it on. You may not have the whole story. Most schools have a zero tolerance program
    for bullying of any kind.

  3. Carole Banks, MSW, Parental Support Line Advisor Report

    Dear ‘LuvMyChildren’:

    If your daughter is the one being bullied, she is not the problem. The bullies are the problem. Parents and school officials need to require the bullies to change their behavior—not require the kid who is bullied to change. But we do want to teach our kids how to be safe in the presence of bullies. It’s smart to tell them to not be alone, avoid where bullies hang out, don’t confront them, try not to respond to them, tell a teacher, and tell your parent about it every time it happens. Encourage your daughter to continue to talk to you when she’s bullied or about any other problems she has in school. Get details of bullying incidents and write this information down. Tell the school every time this happens to your child so they can take steps to make sure that the school is a safe environment for all the kids.

  4. LuvMyChildren Report

    This article helped some, but I am desperate for help. My daughter was bullied in Kindergarten (yes, Kindergarten) by two girls. It always happened in the lunch room – moving away from her and saying things. She did not tell me for at least 5 months. We went on vacation and she totally calmed down. I contacted the school and requested she be moved immediately. The situation got better. It took me a year to get her out of the mode of being the victim, blaming everyone else, etc. In first grade, I trusted the teacher more and seemed to get less comments home. In second grade, she always was in trouble for something and the teacher never believed her when she was telling the truth. This year it is starting all over again, and I am at the end of my rope.

    I talk and talk to her about being a nice person, accepting people for who they are, etc. I know things are awry in school when she comes home every day crying, screaming at me, sassy mouth, etc. She now says she is holding it in until she gets home. The teacher told her to not tell me everything that goes on in school. UH! Frankly, she doesn’t have to – I know just by her behavior. She is a good child with a good heart. I have asked for a meeting with the teacher and now the principal is involved. I cannot/will not let this continue again. I told her I was going to have her see the social worker and she said the kids will call her names.

    Anyone have any ideas? I read some of the information on this site, which is helpful.
    Is there anything I can do in the short-term?

  5. WinGate Report

    I am parenting a Special Needs Child which is Challenging. Especially, when other non-custodial family members come against me instead of trying to help me. This has been a negative impact on Joshua and he acts out at school and at home each time we go to court and almost every time he speaks or visits them. It does not have to be this hard if everyone giving advice truly has the child’s best interest at heart and desires to help with the child instead of control without help.

  6. cwn Report

    I found your article thought provoking and came up with a few of my own responses your question.
    -We are not your enemy. We want to be your partner.
    -We need you to keep trying to reach our children.-We need you to enforce meaningful consequences at the moment when the behavior needs to be reshaped.
    -We do not take everything our child says about sschool i.e.”It happened because the teacher hates me.” verbatim. Please extend us the same courtesy about what our child says to you about things that happen at home.-We are contacting you about our child at the beginning of the year because waiting has historically led to big problems down the road. We’re really not trying to bug you.
    -We are aware that you are a very important part of our child’s life for the next nine months and we are grateful you are up to the challenge. THANKS!

  7. Bernice Report

    While I agree we many of your parental concerns, I also must comment on the teacher aspect. I know that my school has an excellent PASS coach, special needs and regular classroom teachers that attempt to be nurturing to the students and parents. However, because of the strict discipling laws and approach techniques, we are not able to “discipline” in the way that a parent may feel that we should. Because the more down time, means less learning for your children. If they are constantly being pulled from the classroom then there is less meaningful teaching/learning taking place. Also, there is part of the problem with homework, because the child may have missed the portion of the lesson where the content was covered. Another reason for homework to be frustrating is that the child may have been disruptive and because of the inclusion regulations, the child is in a classrom of 25-29 students without an aide (this year). So, thus is the problem. While I am concerned with every child’s need to be educated, it might well be served for some parents to remain in the classroom to get first hand how to help your child and teacher.

  8. Tbone86739 Report

    I have worked with all kinds of children with needs and as a teacher I am in agreement and disagreement. I am and always have been the type of teacher that the more the parent is involved the better. Unfortunately many parents do not respond. However, for those that do please be involved from day one. As an administrator PLEASE be involved from day one..The more we share the better for the child. Children like to play one against the other and many times it works with parents that are not involved. I can help find solutions for everyone when I can work with the child and their parents. When a child acts out the parents should be called immediately..(for major infractions)I like to have the child tell the parents why we have to call them ..Then I talk with the parent. I send home daily behavior reports that address everything good and bad. This way everyone is up to date and nothing is forgotten or ignored. Parents have the daily report and time to sit and work with their child..Teaching is an incredible priviledge..and honor. I currently work with Kindergarten and first graders with severe behavior problems. In the past I have worked as a principal in a juvenile correctional school. Behaviors are just a part of children learning about the world they live in. They learn about choices..and above all they are just children..

  9. Kim Stricker Report

    For someone who wrote a blog about “staying out of the way” a month ago, I certainly did not mean stay out…I am still as ever involved in the day to day issues. This week it is homework. It’s not being brought home, not done, and then child is lying about it. There is constant communication with the school and we are figuring out how to tighten the parameters for this child. He needs to be accountable and responsible. And everyone here is so right when they say we need to be available. Not so easy with jobs, chores, dinners, and other kids, but being there to address the day, help them process it, and move forward is our goal.

  10. clh Report

    Number four expresses my feelings exactly! Our district prefers to keep school problems at school. I understand that school issues need to be dealt with at school, and I expect that. But I also feel I should be informed about issues that happen at school. Anything that sends my child to the principal’s office should be reported home BEFORE the end of the school day! That way I know what to expect, I know the school’s side, and I have some insight about how much I should or should not push my child after school. My child comes home probably 3 afternoons out of 5, and is mad about something, or explodes, and I have absolutely no idea why that is. I am glad my child is learning to “keep it together” at school. However, if it is so difficult that it causes her to have melt-downs and/or blow-ups so often after the school day, I need to be better informed about the school day.

  11. Martella Report

    What you say is so true, but what is important to me is that no matter what parents needs to be available to their kids. Kids need us time, time to tell you about what went wrong during the school day and then it is us, the parent’s responsibility to show them how to look at the problems, and guide them but make sure that you do not give solutions. Make the child the main role player, finding his own solutions. If it is not working then we again sit down and listen to him/her and again guide them.

  12. Cher H. Report

    Excellent list and so true!

    Number 3 is my biggest frustration. I think my son’s school is finally getting that. He has been caught off the school property so many times in the past two years. They’d tell me about it, but no consequences were really given. I think they expected me to do something about it at home. I told them that they had to start enforcing the rules and not expect me to do it 6 hours later.

    Great article!

  13. Gurmay Darlington Report

    That was an interesting post about 5 things I wish teachers knew about parents. I disagree with the suggestion to encourage parents to try to stay out of the way, as your child and teacher settles into the new school year together. I strongly recommend that parents should be involved in his/her child’s school life from the very beginning of the school year.

  14. May Report

    Regarding point #4. It’s important for kids to be able to relax when they get home. What adult wants to come home from work to only start working as soon as they arrive? I’m a teacher and in order for a child to do a decent job on homework, they need to
    have some down time before tackling the day’s homework. Simple chores can be sprinkled into this time as that would involve some physical exertion. Also, lots of today’s boys really want to spend that time playing video games. Extra time could be granted for homework well done – neatly and with care. (This does not mean it has to be perfect).



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