An Open Letter to Parents from a Teacher

There are few things that grind my gears like a kid crying..during my class while I’m trying to teach a dance step.

Ok, that sounds awful. Let me clarify: nothing grinds my gears like a kid NEEDLESSLY crying or having a meltdown or acting out when some blame can be placed on the parents’ heads. I’ve seen some truly strange things this past summer that did nothing to serve my students potential to have a productive, happy day.

Here are a few tips for parents on how to keep your child’s teacher from hating you/ your budding prodigy:

1.If you receive a document from your teacher or school, PLEASE READ IT! You can skip the bio, I don’t really care if you know where I earned my degree. But the part that says, ‘dress your child in closed-toed shoes and clothes that you don’t mind getting slightly dirty’ or other things that might protect their expensive little wardrobes and toes are actually important. It also says right there where pick up will be each day, on the page I just handed to you. So when you ask, ‘where is pick up?’ while still HOLDING THE LETTER containing all of that necessary information, I will think you are a bit dim.

2. Dressing your kid– if they are there to dance, don’t send them in flip-flops. It is impossible to not trip on those suckers. Save them for the beach. Also, if you know that your child has a tendency to want to do cartwheels or roll on the floor, may I suggest for the little girls- shorts under a dress/ skorts/ or pants?

3. Let’s talk snacks– it is not ok to give a five-year old two bags of fudge stripe cookies when they had breakfast an hour prior! When they turn into a hyper, crying, sugar-rush mess I will not be mad at them, I will be mad at you. Don’t you want your child to succeed? Don’t you want your child to have nutrients and teeth at the ripe-old-age of ten? I understand they all want fruit snacks and cookies. I was a kid once (pre-diabetes) too. Please consider that some fruit snacks are healthier than others and if they will only eat cookies, please consider portion control.

Part two of snacks- packaging. I don’t mind having to open bag after bag of goldfish, or even those weird Honest kid applesauce in a screw-top bottle things. I don’t mind helping with juice boxes. But please remember that capri suns are hard for kids under 6 to get that straw in the right spot and those icky gogurt things will splatter. Send your kid with food and drink that they can open without making a mess.

Part three- PLEASE feed them breakfast. Not cake, not chocolate. I had one student this summer who complained every day about being tired and not wanting to play games, or learn songs or dances that was very late on the last day of camp. When her Mom brought her in and I asked this sleepy-faced frowner if she had a good breakfast, she said, ‘well….I had some cake and some chocolate.” ‘Cake and chocolate!?” I yelled. And I could hear her Mom saying, ‘well, this morning was kind of, I mean I know, ok, I’m just gonna get out of here because I’m embarrassed’. You should be embarrassed lady. Everyone in their right mind knows better than this. I mean, at least make it a pancake so we can pretend it’s breakfast! (I strongly suggest eggs, yogurt, fruit, toast, oatmeal, lean sausage, or lower-sugar cereals that kids still enjoy).

Part four (can you tell snacks were a major bug in my bum this summer?) – Send them with enough food! If I was teaching an all-day camp, I would often find kids had eaten their morning snack and part of lunch, then their lunch and afternoon snack at lunchtime leaving nothing for the afternoon. If kids are in camp with me, they will be working up a sweat. They will need refreshment. Also, empty calories with no protein means an empty rumbling tummy. If you send nothing but cookies and goldfish for snacks, they will burn through those. Consider some fruit or veggies, or if you send a graham cracker, put some peanut butter on there. Remember those things called fiber and protein? Also, if not sent with all junk kids will probably pace their snacks better. Even grapes or carrot sticks sound better when they are hungry and that age and metabolism, the probably can’t really eat too many grapes or carrots. Go ahead and over-pack the healthy stuff to fill in the gaps of real hunger around the treats  which they will inevitably eat first.

4. Communicate your Child’s needs with your teachers– Most schools require health records to let teachers know any medical conditions, allergies, etc. What we aren’t always told is when a child has something like ADD, ADHD, has one of those and is taking a break from medication, has a sensory disorder, Autism, or Asbergers. A teacher, as an authority responsible for maintaining rules of discipline and order in a classroom to allow a structure for kids to succeed and feel safe, needs to know if someone has special needs. I had a student this summer with Asbergers that needed extra reminders on personal space constantly, but it wasn’t a problem because I knew that it wasn’t the kid purposely acting out. A teacher is responsible for bringing compassion and patience to every kid in the classroom for their specific needs and it is MUCH easier to do so if we know what we’re working with. I think there were some parents that I met that were embarrassed to admit their kids had something, were different, needed something extra. Trust me, we will see it and we just want to help. If you are the parent, you will know your child best and can give the best tips to your teacher in things that work, triggers, things to look out for. Please share them with us so that we may be better in doing our job.

5. Don’t be late for pick-up! Be early, that’s just fine if you’re peeking through the window for the last five minutes of class. When stuff (aka- ‘traffic’) happens, please at least say sorry when you’re late and we’re stuck in our classroom, missing our very short lunch or those few minutes that we have before rushing to our next job. It’s pretty rude to waltz in bedecked in your lulu lemon yoga outfit and six-inch heels as if we have we have all the time in the world while we’re waiting on you A sorry goes a long way. Especially since I want your shoes and your tank top. And want to get rid of your kid as much as you do. Just kidding.

Just fyi- we can tell if you smother your kid at home and give them every little thing they want. I had one kid this summer that on first day, was one of my favorites of the summer because he was so darn cute. But as the week progressed, this was the kid that would CRY every time anyone else had a turn to be ‘it’ for a game or if we didn’t do exactly what he wanted at that moment. Smothered kids are disruptive.Discipline them at home and don’t leave it all for us.

That’s it! In short- be informed on our policies, keep us informed on your kid, feed them well, and be on time. It’s that simple to keep your teacher moderately happy.

3 thoughts on “An Open Letter to Parents from a Teacher

  1. This is a great reminder. My 17 year old taught her first dance camp this year and by mid way she came home in tears because of many of those reasons you mention (not enough snacks, sugar hype based on a sugar breakfast and the 2 kids who insisted on having everything done their way). At the beginning I chucked it up to this being her first time teaching alone, but after hearing the same issues echoed by the more senior teachers, I realized the problem was with the parents more so with than the kids. I hope enough of us parents read this and more importantly, heed it. I re-tweeted this in hopes it will serve as an aha moment for others.

    • Hi Marie, thank you for your comments. I think the issues facing teachers rarely change but we become more comfortable and familiar with how to deal. If your poor daughter was so moved by the challenges for teachers then she surely takes the responsibilites with great regard and it will no doubt become easier for her. When I was 17, I was a mere assistant so I am impressed that someone so young takes on a full teacher position. Best of luck to her and you!

      • “Full teacher” only for half day summer camp. When the school year begins she will revert to her role as Assistant teacher. I had her read your blog for assurance.

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