What teachers really want you to know about school!

By Jenny Sites, Publisher Macaroni Kid Fredericksburg August 8, 2018

It’s almost time to go back to school -  I know that half of the readers are thinking “summer flew by!” and the other half are thinking “Yippee! Off to school they go!”  I will personally have 3 out of 4 kids going to school this year and wish summer had been a little longer!  As I was doing my back-to-school shopping, I was wondering what it is that teachers wished parents knew – so I asked them! Here is what they said:

Prepare to go back to school.  Lots of families drop or ease up on their routines during the summer. A few weeks before school starts you should start getting back into the school routine.  Set an appropriate bed time and follow through.  Wake the kids up in the morning and practice the before school routine of eating, getting dressed, brushing teeth, etc. This will make things easier on both you and them once school starts!  Also, know that your kids will be tired the first week or two of school – and that’s ok! 

For younger children, help them learn to write and recognize their name before starting school.  This will make the first few weeks a lot easier on them and the teacher.

The school supply list. Almost all of the teachers who responded mentioned the supply list – they know it’s long but please don't complain.  While it does seem like a lot of items, all of the items are purposeful and they really do use them all!  If teachers request a specific brand, please get that brand if possible.  The teachers have already done the trial and error. They list brand names to save you (or them) from having to re-purchase supplies.  Teachers end up picking up all of the supplies that don’t get sent in, plus other supplies that aren’t on the list, with their own personal money. Can you imagine how expensive that gets for the teacher? 

You can find your school supply list on your school’s website and you should purchase the items before the first day of school if possible. If you are able to also supply some or all of the “optional” items on your list, it is greatly appreciated.  If you are unable to get the school supplies you should let the school or teacher know as soon as possible so they can refer you to the proper place to get assistance.  There are many generous groups that help put together backpacks and school supplies for the local schools.  

Many times the middle/high school teachers don’t have the opportunity to ask parents for help with supplies other than the basic notebooks/folders/pencils that the kids need for class each day.  They are always appreciative of parents who reach out and ask what additional supplies may be helpful in the classroom.  Tissues, hand sanitizer and pencils usually top their wish list! 

Keep the communication open.  The teacher should be the first line of communication to solve problems. The best way to do this is to call ahead or send a note to make arrangements for a conference. When a teacher contacts a parent, the parent should follow through and respond appropriately.  

Also remember that the teacher doesn’t know what is going on outside of the classroom unless she is told. Be sure to keep the teacher informed about anything out of the ordinary that may be going on at home, any new custody or medical issues that may come up, or anything else you feel may impact your child at school.  Most teachers prefer to be contacted via email. If you aren’t comfortable stating the information in the email, simply ask to set up a meeting.

Back to School night is important.  Any time that you can meet with the teacher is important. It helps build a bond between home and school and will allow you to get all of the information that you need – information that your student might not make it home with. Also, go ahead and fill out and turn in all of the paperwork that they give you at back to school night / business night.  It’s much easier to leave it with the teacher at that time rather than take it home and misplace it, or attempt to send it back to school with your child later.  Be patient when attending school functions and remember that the teacher has a large number of children/parents/prior students who all want to say hi, or chat. If you have a limited amount of time to stay, politely let the teacher know. If he/she is unable to make that work, they are typically happy to schedule another time to meet with you.  Additionally, if you have important information (such as custody issues, medical issues, etc.) that you would like to share with the teacher, you should ask to schedule another time to meet. The teacher will want to allow you the proper time and privacy to discuss this information with them and to be sure they understand correctly what you are telling them. 

Follow the Golden Rule.  You encourage your children to treat everyone respectfully, so lead by example. Be sure you are treating teachers (and staff) the way that you would like to be treated – respectfully - and you will get the same in return.  You and the teacher have the same goals, to promote learning.  Remind your children that teachers, staff, bus drivers and peers all deserve respect. Set a positive mindset about school, value school procedures and follow through by supporting school functions and events.  Let the teachers know you appreciate them. Don't feel like you have to purchase extravagant gifts, but remember a heart-felt thank you card goes a long way!

Special/elective teachers and paraprofessionals often get left out.  Don’t forget that your child sees these teachers weekly – for 6 years! Take the time to meet and support these specialists along with any other paraprofessionals who work with your kids. Be sure to remember them throughout the year and show them the same gratitude that you show the classroom teachers.  


Other important tips:

  • Be sure your child arrives at school on time and prepared.
  • If your child is sick, please keep them home to avoid spreading the illness.  Let the school/teacher know that the child is ill and if they will be out for an extended time be sure to make arrangements to pick up missed work so your child better prepared upon return.
  • Don’t tell your child that you weren’t good at a subject and can’t help them study. Ask the teacher for ideas. Teaching a child how to study is a skill that lasts a lifetime!
  • Encourage your child to do their best and hold them accountable.
  • Read to your child every night. Reading is one of the most beneficial things you can do to help your child love to read.

And remember, the teacher will “love your child all day, every day & even after they’ve left [their] room, school year, and school building!” 


A HUGE thank you to all of the teachers who took time off during their summer vacations to answer my questions for this article! We appreciate you all year long!