How to really help teachers

Parents and teachers have one main thing in common: They both want children to succeed. From donating supplies to sending kids to school ready to learn, there are plenty of things that teachers want parents to know.

Parents and teachers have one main thing in common: They both want children to succeed. From donating supplies to sending kids to school ready to learn, there are plenty of things that teachers want parents to know.

Do what you can
“When I taught elementary school, I loved having help from parents,” said Cindy McKinley Alder, a teacher from Milford, Michigan, author of “One Smile and One Voice” and coauthor of “365 Teacher Secrets for Parents.”

“Help can come in so many different forms. Some parents have the time and energy to come in a few times a week to help with whole-class activities. Others prefer occasionally working with kids one-on-one. Some like to come in but would rather help with checking papers. Parents can also pitch in from home to help prepare school projects, such as assisting with book orders. Help is always welcome,” Alder said.

One of the best things parents can do to make a teacher’s job easier is to send kids to school ready to learn, Alder said. A well-rested, well-fed child who comes prepared with homework and supplies will be in a better position.

Be a role model
“We’ve all heard the famous adage, ‘Actions speak louder than words,’ but how often do we take it to heart? Children are like sponges, and they’re learning all the time. This is why it’s so important to model the behaviors you want from your children,” said Lisa McGrath, a high school teacher and mentor in Olympia, Washington.

“Take action: Read something every day, take a class, learn a new skill and show—don’t tell—your children how important being a lifelong learner really is. The simple investment of time, curiosity and practice has the ability to transform your life, and you’re worth it,” she said.

“Teachers would love it if what they were doing in the classroom was reinforced at home. Knowing her students are reading and writing at home on a regular basis would make any teacher happy,” Alder said.

Make a donation
Supplies are always a welcome gift. Teachers need tissues, pencils, new markers, sanitizing wipes and more. It’s simple to find what a teacher is in need of: Just ask, Alder said.

Don’t just drop by to talk
At some point, most parents will need to contact their child’s teacher with regular questions or in an emergency, so it is helpful for teachers to recommend the best way to communicate.

“Parents need to know that teachers are so busy and often don’t have time for drop-in conversations. Email is great because it gives both parties time to think before responding,” Alder said.

Be proactive
Some schools may move to virtual learning in the fall, which presents its own challenges. Start the new school year on the right foot by expressing concerns before there is a real problem, said developmental psychologist Erin O’Connor, a professor at New York University and a mother of two daughters.

“Even though we’re all going through the same crisis, we have different resources at hand. What if a teacher doesn’t have a strong enough internet to do a virtual class live? Then a parent could offer to run a live book group with a small group so that children still have a chance to have real-time interaction,” O’Connor said.

Have a safe learning space
Be intentional about the space you choose where your child will regularly engage in online learning or studying, said Dr. Kevin Corsini, president of San Diego Christian College. Ask yourself whether a student learns best in the solitude of home or in the midst of others at a local coffee shop.

“Everyone is wired uniquely. Figure out what works best for you and get to that spot each week for your class. Having a consistent location for your online class will help create a physical framework for learning and lead to a more enjoyable experience,” he said.

—Melissa Erickson | More Content Now

Where to buy

The Repository
Select Rite Aid Stores
Spee-D Foods
Buehler's Fresh Foods
Fishers Foods, including 44th Street NW, Tuscarawas St. W, Fulton Drive, Lincoln Way E. and Cleveland Ave. NW locations
Aultman Hospital Gift Shop
Mercy Medical Center Gift Shop
Gervasi Vineyard Marketplace
Carpe Diem Coffee Shop, downtown Canton and Belden Village Mall locations
News Depot
Avenue Arts Marketplace
Yum Yum Tree Alliance
Grapes in a Glass