Before I became a newborn photographer, I taught elementary school in Los Angeles. Special Education elementary school to be exact. And during my 15 years doing this, I picked up a few tips for Moms that I want to pass on to you.
The trouble with elementary school, the way it is set up in most schools, is that your child is “stuck” with their teacher for the whole year. Love them or hate them, it’s a done deal. Perhaps in some private schools where money talks, parents can get a room change. But for most people, your child is assigned a room and a teacher and that’s the end of it. If you love the teacher, great. Congrats. But if you don’t, there are a lot of things you may be doing that are making things worse for your child.
- Playing the Arm-Chair Teacher: No matter what you may think about what your child tells you about their day, stay positive. Avoid comments like: “This is just busy work” or “That was not fair for your teacher to do that” or “I don’t think your teacher knows what she is doing”. I cannot count how many times I heard the inner thoughts of parents when their child parroted them in class the next day. For one, kids have a limited understanding of what is going on. So they are not the best reporters. For another, if parents do not act like they respect the teacher, the behavior of their child deteriorates almost immediately. Your kids follow what YOU think. I guarantee it. If they think their teacher is the best one ever, they will act like it and learn more.
- Not Thanking the Teacher: Elementary school is a time when kids look up to adults. Kids LOVE to give their teacher little cards they made, or notes they wrote. But they REALLY love it when mom sends them to school with a little bag with tissue paper that has a card or chocolate. Just an out-of-the-blue “thank you”, no matter what you think of the teacher, is something that kids LOVE to give. And I’ll be honest, teachers remember this stuff. And when your child needs a bit extra, your teacher will likely give it. I hate to admit this. But it’s true. At least for many of us teachers out there.
- Doing Your Kids’ Projects: Trust me. I know that some of the assignments that come home are outrageously annoying. There is no way your child can do them without help. We know this. And we teachers are annoyed too. But to help too much sends a poor message to your child about the teacher. It is saying that “the teacher will not like what you can do, so your parents are going to do it”. This is false. Teachers totally know when parents do work for their child. It puts teachers in an awkward position. What are they supposed to say to your child when they see this work? If they say “great job”, they are telling your child they expect a level of work that is not age appropriate. If they say “You did not do this”, then that makes the child feel terrible when she had no choice in the matter. Her parents did what they did. It is not her choice.
These are just three of the main things I noticed during my long teaching career. I hope they may help you.
Katie is a maternity, infant and newborn photographer in Los Angeles