Be an advocate for your child and teacher
My aunt’s favourite commercial of all-time, she would boast, belongs to a certain office supply store.
In the ad, parents are gleefully strolling down the aisles, tossing stationary into a cart to the tune of “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” trailed by their dejected children. I’m pretty sure just about every parent gets warm tingly feelings when they see the commercial or think about their kids heading back to school.
They are about to regain some freedom and a place to shuttle their kids off to for seven hours a day.
I’m not a parent, but I get it.
I just ask you to remember who is inheriting your precious little angel during that time for the next 10 months. Along with up to 30 or more of their insolent friends.
Remember the fit little Suzy threw because you chose white milk over chocolate milk or said “no” to the latest sugar-based cereal at the store? That temper doesn’t disappear when you put them on a bus.
Or how about when you asked Jaxen if he cleaned his room? He said he had, but when you checked nothing was touched. They do not stop telling little white lies because they cross the threshold of their school.
Or when you tell Rachel to baby sit her little brother instead of going out with friends, and she storms off yelling “I hate you!” before slamming the door. The insubordination and bad attitudes are not vanquished because they are suddenly surrounded by their peers. On the contrary, they now have back up.
Remember this when a note is sent home because there is concern for your child due to their behaviour or academics. The absolute worst thing you can do is walk into the meeting believing the teacher is wrong before they can brief you on the situation.
No, not all students are bad kids or problem children. In fact, I know from watching my wife, who is a teacher, that when those who struggle the most finally find success it is that much more rewarding for everyone.
School is not supposed to be a teacher versus family situation.
It’s about making sure your child learns not just the ABCs, but also how to cope and deal with life. When it comes to raising a child, teachers are among the most influential people in their life. Over the next 10 months they will spend more awake time with your child than you will.
They are your child’s coach, drama instructor, and sometimes a confidant.
Their day does not end when the bell goes or they arrive home. Even after running extra-curricular programs, there are generally hours of planning and prep and papers to mark or report cards to compile. Many of them supplement their classroom supplies out of their own pocket or have food on reserve for students who come to school hungry or with without a lunch.
They’re also on the front line of every flu epidemic that sweeps through the school because of parents’ unwillingness or inability to keep sick kids home.
They gladly do so for many reasons. There is a joy to teaching and watching young people develop and turn into mature contributing members of society. There is pride they get in watching students overcome and persevere and show a willingness to try when previously they would give up. And they love watching them get excited over learning — understanding Shakespeare or complex mathematical equations or reciting the alphabet for the first time — and looking forward to a bright future.
Not all stories turn out with happy endings. Their hearts break when tragedy strikes or students leave or are pulled out or drop out for uncertain futures.
They are invested in your children. It is who they are and what they are about.
I write all this to say that parents and teachers need to be on the same side. There is nothing easy about getting a child from birth to out the door and into adulthood. Being an advocate for your child is absolutely important, you are their best hope. But it is critical to understand that their teacher usually has their best interest at heart as well and are trained in the matter.
So, as you go forward into this year, do so with your eyes wide open. Do your best to understand who your child is, and not through the complete innocence you want projected on them.
Be active in their learning at home and support their teacher at school.
And do celebrate your slice of freedom and calm in the house, as fleeting as it may be.