What Primary Teachers Wish All Parents Implemented at Home

Advice from Teachers

I wasn’t quite sure how one went about teaching their firstborn to read. I’d never raised a human before. I hadn’t majored in Elementary Education, been a nanny, or spent a significant amount of time with small humans until I suddenly had one of my own. Reading seemed like light years away for this tiny person who couldn’t tell his nights from his days. But, I had heard from numerous sage moms to start reading early and often. I value solid advice from people who have repeatedly observed and personally walked through the season of life that I’m about to embark upon. So, as my children became school-aged, I began gleaning advice from the teachers we began to rub shoulders with at school. I wondered what these seasoned educational professionals wished parents knew and implemented before their children stepped into that teacher’s classroom.

So, I asked them, “What advice would you give to parents who are currently raising your future students? What would you want them To Do and what would you want them To Avoid?” The teachers’ advice may affirm you, inspire you, challenge you, or surprise you.

Teacher A  

  • Read, read, read, read, read. Seriously, though, fostering a love of reading is SO important. Reading is not only important for academic success, it’s such a great bonding experience. Who doesn’t love to snuggle up before bed for a bed-time story? Read to your kids. Have your kids read to you. Read your book alongside your kids. They need to see that their parents love to read too.
  • Besides reading, play with your kids. Have plenty of time for unstructured play. Let them use their imagination.
  • Be fully engaged — put the phone away. Model encouraging and kind words and behavior.
  • Avoid letting your kids talk back to you. Nip that in the bud. I am amazed by the number of 6-year olds who think it’s ok to talk back to a teacher.
  • Avoid using electronics as a babysitter. Electronic use should be an occasional thing, not a regular thing.
  • Avoid doing things for your child that they are developmentally capable of doing themselves. Let them zip their coats and load their backpacks. It’s never too early to learn responsibility in small ways.

Teacher B

What to DO ::

  • Listen when they have something to tell you. It sets a precedent for when they become middle schoolers and high schoolers. They’ll know you will listen no matter what.
  • Ask lots of questions! It helps them process their thoughts.
  • Laugh with your child! Have fun!
  • Enjoy each phase of their lives.
  • Pray often for your children.

What to AVOID ::

  • Scheduling your child in many activities. Try to choose one or two for your child to participate in.
  • Giving a “long” talk.  It is more helpful to give small pieces of your thoughts and let your child ponder those thoughts a little at a time.
  • Having arguments in front of your children without resolving it in front of your children. Be sure to make up in front of your children so they can see how conflict is resolved and that you love each other enough to work it out!
  • Favoring one child over another. Try to be as equal as possible.
  • Watching a lot of TV — it hinders creativity! Kids need to be bored in order for their minds to be creative and come up with fun things to do.

Teacher C

What to DO ::

  • Do love your kids and their abilities.
  • Teach your kids the importance of listening and following directions.
  • Honor the older people around you and the wisdom they bring into your life.
  • Serve others and love others. You don’t always have to win or be first.
  • Teach that there is right from wrong and live it.

What to AVOID ::

  • Believing everything your child says about others.
  • Comparing yourself or your child to others.
  • Negative people & influences in your life that repeatedly bring you or your child down.
  • Too much social media exposure
  • Not reading. (Which means to READ, READ, and READ again!!!!!)

Teacher D

What to DO ::

  • Let them do whatever they can do, even if it takes a little longer. Independence is a wonderful thing!
  • Let them have consequences.  
  • Make use of our public libraries and let them have their own library cards! Libraries are great places to find or follow up on interests as well as participate in community programs.
  • Teach them the value of patience.  Teach them to be considerate of others and wait their turn.

What to AVOID ::  

  • Electronic devices to keep them occupied. Phones, tablets, video games and so on take a toll on creativity and attention span!
  • Avoid doing for them what they can do for themselves OR having an older sibling do it for them. (i.e. Tying shoes, hanging up coats, etc.)
  • Avoid praise for a half-hearted effort to encourage excellence. Compliment on what was done well, but ‘coach’ on what could be better.  

Teacher E

What to DO ::

  • Cuddle with your child from newborn on.
  • Give honest feedback that’s earned. Not everything your child tries is trophy worthy. Make “effort” the more important goal.
  • Foster creative play activities focusing on process over finished product.
  • Old fashioned, I know, but read paper books you turn with your fingers rather than swipe.
  • Ask children their opinions, yet have them understand that somethings adults need to decide.

What to AVOID ::

  • Don’t force children to apologize. Rather, help them understand how their poor choice affected others. This needs many examples modeled.
  • Don’t push a child beyond their capabilities.
  • An “Anything Goes” parenting approach is costly; children need boundaries and rules
  • Don’t bully anyone, emotionally or physically.
  • Don’t embellish your child with too many material objects, but rather, give them your time.

Teacher F

What to DO :: 

  • Read every day.  Talk about the book’s characters, feelings, settings, problems, etc.
  • Have engaging and rich conversations about people, life, friends, seasons, etc.
  • Play board games that teach taking turns, counting, sharing, colors, letters, and numbers.
  • Provide experiences like the library, park, and nature walks to name a few.
  • Teach them to be self sufficient at their age level.  

What to AVOID :: 

  • Don’t use an iPad or other device in place of conversation or teaching
  • Don’t have negative conversations about teachers or school in front of your child
  • Don’t assume that kindergarten or preschool is not hard work. Your child will be exhausted when they come home.
  • Don’t assume the teacher can do everything for your child. Your child’s teacher may have up to 30 kids. Teach them to be self sufficient.
  • Don’t assume it’s milk and cookies and nap time! There is so much to do and learn. They will not only learn academic skills but they will also learn social skills of tolerance, respect, collaboration, team building, and problem solving skills.  

There is a LOT here and I know it can be overwhelming. Some of this may resonate with you more than others, but I hope you found the simplicity of the teachers’ suggestions affirming.  And, I hope you found it refreshing to see that setting your child on a trajectory for academic success is feasible!

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