Expert Parent Advice

Top 5 Things Your Child's Teacher Wants You to Know

1. Make sure your child gets plenty of sleep each night.  One of the most important things you can do to help your kids succeed in childcare or at school is to ensure that they get enough sleep.  Most kids gets far less sleep than their bodies require, and that negatively impacts their academic success, social interactions and classroom behavior.   Sleep experts from Web MD remind us that kids ages 3-6 need 10-12 total hours sleep each night and 7-12 year olds need 10-11 hours.  If your kids get less than that – it’s time to re-tool the bedtime routines.  For resources on improving bedtime routines, check out the interactive that goes along with this video.

2. Be on time – better yet, be early!  You know the saying – if you’re on time, you’re late!   That is especially important in the school setting.  Some parents of preschool kids view the start time as somewhat “optional” – after all, it’s only preschool.  However, if you arrive late and the teacher is already underway with circle time or another activity, it disrupts the rest of the class, and it does your child a disservice.  Not only does it increase his anxiety level, but he misses out on time to connect with his friends and ease into the routine.  He may also miss important instructions from the teacher during circle time and feel embarrassed about arriving late.  Getting to school in plenty of time for your child to ease into the day may require you to get up earlier to make it out the door without a rush – but it will be worth it.

3. Don’t try to discuss a problem during drop-off or pick-up.  This is a busy time for teachers.  Don’t try to discuss the details of your child’s day or address problems at the same time.  Save that for an email, phone call, or make an appointment so you can discuss the situation when your child isn’t within earshot. 

4. Be on our team and trust us!  Teachers want you to know that they have your child’s best interest in mind and they are on your team.  If your child’s teacher comes to you with a concern, don’t panic, but listen to the concern with an open ear and an open heart.  Even though you may not see the same behavior at home, if the teacher is taking the time to share it with you, it’s obviously something that she’s observed on several occasions.  Focus your energy on solutions that can help your child the most.  Parents often ask me about the best way to discipline their kids when they have behavior issues at school.  That’s an important question with an answer that may surprise you.  You’ll find the answer in the interactive that goes along with this video.

5. Dress your kids for independence!  Teachers don’t care about your kids’ fashion!  They don’t care if they have a catalog-worthy wardrobe or even if their clothes match.  Teachers want you to dress your kids in a way that allows them to be as independent as possible.  Remember – kids have a hard-wired need for independence.  When they can do things themselves – whether it’s pulling their pants up and down by themselves or getting their shoes on and off for rest time – they feel a sense of pride and accomplishment.  Skip the overalls, and dress your kids in pants without buttons so they can navigate the potty ritual with ease.  Ditch the tie-up shoes, and send them in Velcrosneakers or slip-ons.  Remember – the teacher has a lot of kids to tend to – make life easier for everyone by dressing your little one in a way that allows her to be as independent as possible.

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Amy McCready is the founder of Positive Parenting Solutions and the author of If I Have to Tell You One More Time (Tarcher/Penguin, August 2011).