in partnership
(Image courtesy of pan xiaozhen on Unsplash).

To Parents, From Teachers: Our Best Advice Before the School Year Starts

My mom is a teacher. My sister is a teacher. My best friend is a teacher. Which means, around here, the end of summer and the beginning of fall is all about school!

These gals live and breathe school. Their classrooms are like their second home; their students, their parents, and their coworkers are like their family; and their passion for education philosophy and teaching methods are unmatched. Can I get a hearty “Hooray!” for all the teachers and school staff who are investing in our next generation? They’re truly amazing and worth all our love and appreciation!

Thanks to their wisdom and years of experience, there is no doubt in my mind that today’s teachers have an arsenal of insight for us all. They’re the hands and feet of our school system and I can’t wait to share some of their most valuable advice with you.

You’ll probably nod your head to many and chuckle at a few. Most of all, take these tips to heart and begin the new school year strong!

Convey this message to your kids before the first day, it will take them far.

"Have fun at school! Be kind and do your best!"

- Retired 1st-8th grade and SPED teacher from Long Beach

Talk to your kids about being this kind of friend.

"Have you heard of horseshoe friends? It’s an intentional concept that kids, parents, and teachers should work on to be inclusive of new people! For so many of us, It is a habit to stand or sit in a circle so that we are all facing each other, but that makes it difficult for new students, parents, or teachers to join in a conversation without feeling intrusive. That’s where the horseshoe idea comes in. Rather than sitting/standing in a tight circle, teach your students (and yourselves!) to stand in a horseshoe shape, you’ll still be facing each other but there will also be a deliberate opening for someone new to join in."

- 6th Grade Teacher from Tacoma

Speak up.

"During back-to-school night, encourage parents to ask questions about the curriculum. Ask if there’s going to be homework and if there’s any homework help. Teachers need to be aware that if parents are frustrated they might be tempted to badmouth the curriculum and say it’s dumb. But for the child’s benefit, teachers and parents need to work together."

- 3rd grade teacher from Long Beach

Be generous with necessities.

"When shopping for school supplies: Teachers can never have enough TISSUES and WIPES!"

- 4th grade teacher from Lacey

Keep perspective.

"Growth is so much more important than an individual grade or test scores. Growth includes skills such as perseverance, diligence, organization, etc. Celebrate growth and character. These are the true keys to success in life."

- 6th grade teacher from Shelton

So many teachers shared this sentiment.

"I would love parents and kids to know that just like how cleats are needed for football practice, jerseys are needed for basketball practice, sheet music is needed for band practice, pencils are needed everyday for class. And, even better, if they are longer than 2 inches, have an eraser, and are sharpened!

- 6th grade teacher from Tacoma

It’s all about being a partner.

"As a teacher, I want to work in cooperation with parents to best serve your family. If you'd like something done differently or have concerns or suggestions, please share them. I want to honor your values and perspectives in my classroom. We are partners together in teaching in your child."

- 5th grade teacher from SeaTac

Grab a Sharpie and go to to town.

"Label all of your kid’s sh*t. Unless you fancy the idea of having your child’s entire wardrobe living in the school’s lost and found only to be the back up clothes kids wear when they forget a coat or pee their pants."

- Very honest, but anonymous teacher

The extra thought goes a long way.

"If you know your child is a handful bring a little gift with a card early in the year. Slip in a bit about, “Charlie can be a bit of a clown but he has a sweetheart and is so excited to be in your class” to butter her up right off the start."

- 1st grade teacher from Tumwater

Because reading matters.

"While language occurs naturally just by exposing a child to speech, reading does not occur naturally. It is learned, which means that it can also NOT be learned. It involves several areas of the brain and is a complex skill. It's possible that a child who is not exposed to instruction, or the right instruction, or whose brain is wired a little differently, or who is determined not to learn and the list goes on may NOT learn to read. Sending a child to school is no guarantee that the child will learn to read. Children need instruction. That instruction needs to begin at home before the child begins preschool."

- K-5 Reading Intervention Specialist from Federal Way

It’s all about the right place and the right time.

"If you have specific things you’d like to discuss with the teacher, don’t corner her at open house when she’s trying to meet her 25 other students. Give her your email and ask to set up a meeting the first week of school."

- 5th grade teacher from Lacey

Important skills are learned at home first.

"If your child takes their lunch from home, please help them practice opening ALL the cute containers you send their food in. This goes for zipping lunchboxes and coats too! Doing it once at home is nothing, doing it 20-30 times multiple times a day is super hard!"

- Kindergarten teacher from Olympia

A good attitude about school begins with Y-O-U.

Your child needs to know that you see value in their education. It does not matter if you weren't good in school. School is important. It does matter if your child misses school. Teachers teach until the end of the day. When your child misses school, they miss specific instruction on a specific skill - or practice using that skill."

- 5th grade teacher from Marysville

And, finally, some valuable advice from a seasoned parent.

"When my daughter didn't have the favorite or best teacher, it was okay. We worked on how to make it the best for her and situation because she may have a supervisor she would need to work with and you need to learn and practice that skill. Make sense? I, as the parent, didn't go in and 'save her'."