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Back to School: 10 Things Teachers Wish Parents Would Do

Carol Kocivar, president of the California Parent Teacher Association, shares her tips for the first week of school.

Carol Kocivar, president of the California Parent Teacher Association, is a blogger on Patch sites in California. Are you interested in blogging on your local Patch site? Email the editor to get started (find his or her email address in the top left corner of the homepage).

When my kids were little, my wish for the was pretty basic. It started with making sure the kids were dressed, had breakfast, and were out the door on time and not still in their pajamas.  Easier said than done.

There were all kinds of strategies:

  1. Lay out clothes the night before.
  2. Practice putting shoes on.
  3. Set the alarm.
  4. Forget laces and invest in Velcro.
  5. Darn, set the alarm for 15 minutes earlier.
  6. Explain what it means to eat your breakfast.
  7. Ignore socks that don’t match.
  8. Get homework, backpack, jacket ready the night before.
  9. Ooops. Get kids to bed 15 minutes earlier.
  10. Special Rule: It’s okay if mom is still in pajamas if she is driving kids to school. No one will see.

We all know there is a lot more to student success than just getting to school on time. But as Woody Allen once said, "90 percent of life is just showing up.”

Here are some additional tips from the California State Parent Teacher Association (PTA):

Ten Things Teachers Wish Parents Would Do

1. Be involved in your children’s education. Parent involvement helps students learn, improves schools, and makes teachers’ jobs easier.

2. Provide resources at home for reading and learning.  Have books and magazines for your children and read with your children each day.

3. Set a good example. Show that you believe reading is enjoyable and useful. And it can be reading in any language.

4. Encourage children to do their best. Children need to be guided to set obtainable goals.

5. Confirm that academics are of primary concern, followed by preparation for the adult job and involvement in athletics and other extracurricular activities.

6. Support school rules and goals. Take care not to undermine school rules, discipline, or goals.

7. Use pressure positively. Encourage children while being careful not to apply too much pressure by setting unrealistic goals or by involving children in too many activities.

8. Call teachers as soon as a problem becomes apparent, so prompt action can be taken.

9. Exercise parental responsibility. Don’t expect the school or teachers to take over this job. For example, teaching basic discipline is a parental rather than a school responsibility.

10. Understand that alcohol use and excessive partying are problems. They take a serious toll on a student’s health and classroom performance.

You can find more resources to help start a new school year on the state PTA's website. Everyone is invited to join PTA as we work to improve the lives of California’s children.

Carol Kocivar is the president of the California Parent Teacher Association.

Albert G August 17, 2012 at 03:21 PM
I would also offer that you make sure your student is in bed at a reasonable hour. The sleep factor is really an important factor in readiness and ability to function well at school. As a parent, I also made it very clear what was acceptable in cell phone use at school. When my son's cell phone was taken away I did not rush to the school to retrieve it. He "suffered" without it until I picked it up two weeks later. It was not an issue again. Cell phones can be a distraction and curse for teachers trying to instill some learning. Help them out by establishing your own expectations for your child.
Abby Ulm August 17, 2012 at 04:29 PM
One Thing Parents Wish Teachers Would Do: Please give parents more than one day to return packets of paperwork, supplies that have to be purchased or large projects. Most parents these days work full time at 8-5 jobs, and lots of us are single parents. There's nothing more frustrating than getting home from work at 6 pm and finding out you have to fill out a bunch of forms or dash out to the store for supplies in addition to feeding your family, checking/helping with homework, reading, and getting everything ready for the next day, all in the 2-3 hours before your child's bedtime. It sends the unspoken message that teachers and school administrators have little regard for the schedules and time commitments of parents. This perception can cause division between parents and the school, which isn't good for any of us. Teachers expect parents to allow them time to complete a request, so they should have the same respect for us. Teachers, please plan your communications to parents enough in advance to allow 2-3 days to return things, so as to show that you understand we have busy schedules too.
Albert G August 17, 2012 at 06:04 PM
Your requests are valid, Abby. As a teacher, I never expected to have the students fully supplied or forms back within the first five days of school. The problem sometimes lies in the fact that a student may be given directives, supply lists or forms to sign on a given day,. yet the student may not inform the parent until it's due days later. These days, I understand that most teachers have their requirements listed online so hopefully parents can stay on top of things that way.
Secret I'm Listed August 17, 2012 at 11:57 PM
I've always thought it would be nice if parents could find out BEFORE school started what items were going to be required for each classroom. So many families today are on a very strict pay schedule (I'm retired and collect Social Security while raising 3 young great-grandchildren). Notices could be posted on school doors or windows, emails could be sent out to parents (postage is probably too prohibitive for some districts) or lists posted on the school's website.
gsuburban August 18, 2012 at 12:17 AM
For any teacher to suggest "It's okay to bring them in PJ's" as noted above; for all those moms and dads who take your kid to school in pajamas or sweats; how rude ! That's no example to set for your kids or your community plus for those of us who get up in time to make lunch, breakfast, do some laundry and so forth before school starts, all you people do is flood the community with "bum's" for parents.
Albert G August 18, 2012 at 05:12 AM
Lorri, I've seen dozens of parents with lists of needed supplies that they got before school started. Some stores provide lists and some schools do. You'd have to call or contact the school a couple of weeks before school starts to see if they provide lists beforehand. It's a great idea for those schools that provide that service.
Albert G August 18, 2012 at 05:15 AM
I believe, gs, the article only suggests it's okay for MOM to drive the kids to school in P.J.'s I didn't read here that anyone advocated that it was okay for kids to be in PJ's.

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