I am not a teacher in the formal sense of the word. Trust me when I say that. For example, once I tried to explain an American wedding to a bunch of very attentive Mongolian students. I became so tongue-tied that I defered to my husband who is a teacher. Because of my own inability to teach, I am forever grateful to those in my life who have shouldered the task to teach my children.
Maybe you are like me and your children go to school and learn their ABCs there. Maybe you homeschool, but your children take lessons — swimming or piano or riding or voice — and learn extracurricular activities from someone else. Maybe you have a toddler or infant without a formal teacher, but they do have caretakers–daycare workers or church nursery workers.
Whatever your situation, our children’s lives are fuller because another adult has chosen to enhance their lives. We don’t have to wait for a significant time for giving to teachers. These suggestions are just the tip of the iceberg, and some don’t take very much time.
- Ask your child to be mail carrier & write an encouraging note. It’s important to encourage teachers. Maintaining a classroom is not for the faint of heart. Whether we like their style of management or not, we can partner with them and let them know we’ve got their backs!
- Bring a snack to parent/teacher conference. This may sound like sucking up, but I promise they will be so grateful. I have made it a practice to make cookies or bring a cupcake to at least one conference. Conference days and nights get very long. You will make their day–maybe even their year–because you took a moment to think of them as people with a need.
- Volunteer in classroom. Whether it’s to listen to readers, go on field trips, work on their bulletin boards–let them know when you are available. If you aren’t available, volunteer to pick up needed supplies while you are out doing your own errands.
- Be the teacher’s advocate. This is something your teacher may not even know you do, but it’s one of the best ways to give back to teachers. When you child comes home complaining about their teacher, help them to see what may be happening from the teacher’s point of view. This is extremely hard. I know. I’ve been there. We have been very fortunate to have amazing teachers for my kids. They listen and care and are great fits for my kids. However, there was a time when Tori had two months in another teacher’s reading group. This teacher did not understand how Tori worked and instead of talking to me about it, she complained to her fellow teachers. It was very difficult to be her advocate without huring Tori. It was a delicate balance.
- Practice listening to teacher with child. Role play with your child as the teacher and what it’s like when the students don’t listen. Come up with strategies for how your child can be a leader and help classmates be effective listeners, too.
Giving back to teachers will benefit your child, your teacher, and your role as the parent. And it’s fun to do together as a family.