5 Things Your Child’s Teacher Wishes You Knew at the Start of the School Year

Posted September 3, 2010 by

My children have been in school one week. This is the first year I have not met with my son’s teacher ahead of time, or written and called about my son’s special needs before school started. There are a couple of reasons I have restrained myself this year. He is at the same school as last year and the staff knows him and his IEP. He is in fifth grade and would be embarrassed if I show up or call unnecessarily, and most of all, I remember what it was like to be the teacher starting a new school year.

It is a crazy, busy time. The days are filled with staff meetings, getting your classroom ready, and preparing for teaching. Most years I had an average of sixty students to learn all about in those first few days. Therefore, I have been trying to keep in mind the five things I think your child’s teacher wishes you knew.

1. I have made every effort to learn about your child and the class make up ahead of time. Class lists have been made with the utmost of care, consideration, and thoughtfulness. Your child’s teachers from last year have made the best decision as to your child’s placement based on many factors. Some of those factors are ability to work with others, personalities, needs, and teacher styles. Try to trust we made the right decision. If in six to eight weeks you still feel it was not the right placement, please tell us.

2. If your child has special needs, allergies, or receives special services, I am aware of those needs. However, we are still learning together how the classroom will function and how best to get those needs met. The first weeks are a period of adjustment. Unfortunately, sometimes errors occur or children miss a service due to scheduling conflicts. It will be worked out.

3. As far as learning about your individual child, I have seen their records. I have not memorized their cumulative file. Please understand if I do not remember your job, family situation, or your child’s past achievements/infractions. I do want to know any family information affecting their daily life such as an ailing relative, loss of a pet, or an upcoming move. Feel free to share that type of information as soon as needed at anytime during the school year.

4. I may not always be the same teacher every year. I also have family, personal situations, and different classes that require me to change my style on occasion. Please know I am always trying my best for your child. However, I may not do the same activities or lessons I did with a prior class due to a change in the curriculum, behaviors in the class, or lack of time.

5. I want you to be a partner with me regarding your child’s education. However, I do not desire daily communication with you regarding your child. If your child is old enough to communicate his needs to me, encourage him to advocate for himself; this is an important life skill. Before you call, email, or write me, take a moment (or evening) to calm down, collect all the facts, and then decide if you still need to communicate with me.

Now it is time for me to head over to the school, say hi to my son’s teacher, and hand over some wheat-free treats to keep in the classroom for birthdays. There is a difference between being proactive and overactive, right?


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. Gita Dev Report

    Hi Kim, being a teacher too I could see where you are coming from. I have a posting in my blog which is along similar lines. My experience has mainly been with pre schoolers so I learnt several things about older children too from your postings.
    “I may be not the same teacher every year”… I really liked that train of thought. People forget teachers have a life too so its great way to involve parents and really work as a team.
    Keep up the great work!
    Gita Dev

  2. Kim Stricker Report

    The focus on teachers is about to really heat up with the latest news and magazine topics, plus the latest movies out regarding education. This is an empowered parent website, I am all for empowered parents. As another mom said to me this morning, “What about the kids whose parents are not involved?” It is a great question. Unfortunately, without many immediate answers. I applaud all of you caregivers and parents advocating for your children. Schools need us.

  3. Selma T. Report

    My son transferred from a public school to a private school in our community. We took him out of the public school because he was a target of bullies. His classmates knew he would eventually get upset when they made fun of him or took his lunch bag and when he defended himself he was punished by the principal. The other kids did not get disciplined all the time. Now that he is in the new school, he does not like the teacher, and she calls her students names, such as pimples or does not show much patience. My son has been the only one to be so upset w/ her negative disposition and today he wrote his honest feelings on a note to us for Back to School Night. He is sensitive, opinionated, bright, creative, and kind, but when things are not right, he speaks the truth and can’t let go of it. He is not accepted by the kids either. He claims they don’t like them,but I don’t know what to believe. He sees the negative and doesn’t see anything else. What can I do to help him? I met w/ the teacher and the principal to help them understand my son, and they have tried, but my son keeps coming home w/ the negative. This would have been the first week he would have had a good week without a teacher’s note, but he didn’t make it. What can we do. He’s almost ten years old. He’s the youngest of our 2 kids.

  4. macmaurer Report

    It is wonderful to hear from teachers who understand and take seriously the role they have.It would be a much better place if all teachers feel as you do. Unfortunately there are some teachers who don’t and others that did at one time and are burned out from not being supported by their principals, districts etc.

    When it comes to having a child with special needs-especially in this economy- in all too many cases the parent MUST be an ongoing advocate because these services require additional funds that schools would rather not part with. I have heard this story too many times from parents in different districts for it simply to be an isolated event.

    We still have a long way to go in this country to comes to grips with the cost of quality education now versus the long-term consequences of not providing it. That goes for all levels/needs. We do not value the teaching profession and than are surprised when the end result is less than what we want/need.

    Although I don’t know how one would go about it, I would love to see a system on a par with sports and entertainment.One that acknowledges teachers through compensation. Teachers, more than entertainers, sport stars etc. should get a percentage of the collective pie; say 1% of the yearly amount made by every student they have ever taught.

    Kim, thank you for all you do to create a quality education for children. We need more like you and we need to support financially and otherwise support the important work that those who get it deserve.

  5. Great Grandparent as parent Report

    I am a great grandmother raising 2 grandchildren, one w/ADHD. The girl now functions great in school AB honor roll student 8th grade and requires little help with school assignments. The boy 7th grade (ADHD) requires constant reminders about assignments and projects and I feel the need to email his teachers occasionally, maybe more often than they would care for me to. He was put in the AIG classess after the EOY test last year. He can do the work but needs lots of encouragement. I respect teachers and am very appreciative of their hard work and dedication. Thanks for being one! All of his teachers have asked me to keep in touch and the one I conferenced with at EOY told me to keep up the communication from my end or she would be disappointed in me.

  6. Parent Report

    That is all nice and fine but if I as a parent want daily communication regarding my child then this should be my right and if I do not chose to let my child have as much control as the teacher thinks they should have then the administration should respect the parent wishes. You never know what you will get from year to year. It’s a wonderful year one year and hell to pay the next. There should be a little more regulation on teachers to what and how they are allowed to handle children and how not to. Some of the problems that children have come from bad communication of teachers.

  7. nurseethics Report

    My daughter is a Sr. in high school this year. I can tell you I have been involved with her school and teachers since she was in pre-school..it is the ONLY way to know how things are going, from both sides, teacher and student. I am a parent who supports teachers, they have their hands and minds full. I e-mail them (sometimes confidentially) for progress notes and they e-mail me back. I ask questions and I download and print the year’s curriculum and learning objectives. My daughter knows she has no choice with her mom being involved. Does it embarass her? Sometimes, but I am sensitive to that. She is a 4.0, varsity cheerleader, works part time, and has a few good friends. Was (is it) work? YES! Is it worth it? YES, YES! Teachers are wonderful human beings who have an enormous responsibility…we can’t expect them to parent, but we can ask them to teach..and when they do, they have my accolades!

  8. Allaboutfamily8 Report

    Thanks, Kim. I love the “proactive not overactive”. My gr 5 son is ODD. I”ve had to be at times very active in school and weaning myself from this is difficult. I am desperate to leave the learning to him but terrified (from past experience with his sister) to do it too. Your advice is welcome and I believe it to be true. You have just saved my sons’ teachers from unnecessary contact. I thank you on their behalf.



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