Teaching 25 children in one classroom isn't easy, but having to deal with 25 different sets of parents is worse. Parents can certainly be very helpful and supportive, but every teacher has had to hold their tongue a time or two during a parent-teacher conference.
"Well, he never acts this way at home!" Sure he doesn't, Barbara. I guess the teacher is to blame every. single. year.
"Oh, we're going to Disney next week. Would you mind prepping our daughter's work in advance so we can bring it with us?" I'd love to absolve you of your trip-related concern, Karen, but I've got 24 other kids to think about first. Enjoy Disney, though!
The reality? Teachers are overworked, underpaid and constantly being talked down to by the parents of the children they are literally pouring their lives into. I've never met a teacher whose "summers off" aren't spent planning for the year ahead (and often buying supplies with their own money) and who doesn't earnestly want every child in their class to succeed. Honestly, teachers should get a medal for dealing with parents who are (oftentimes) more disrespectful than their own kids.
Here are 20 things parents would LOVE to say to parents, but can't.
20 Just Let Them Be Kids
Let your kid be a kid, for goodness sake. Let them run around, let them play, and let them make some good old-fashioned mistakes.
Kids learn just as much through social interactions as they do in the classroom. You don't need to start prepping them for college when they're in the second grade, so put down the flashcards after they've had a long day at school and let them enjoy themselves for a bit.
Don't buy your child a cell phone when they are seven-years-old just so you can impress other parents, and definitely don't let them bring it to school. Stop hovering and let your kid explore and make new friends on the playground instead of taking them to the mall.
Remember, boyfriends and girlfriends can wait.
19 Grades Aren't Everything
Calm down, Susan, your child doesn't need to excel in absolutely every subject in order to be successful in life. Even if you are aiming for Harvard, no one in the admissions office is going to compare your child's fourth-grade transcripts, so give your kid a massive break.
All students can learn, they just don't all learn at the same pace, so don't compare their performance to their siblings, friends, or even yourself back in school.
Not only that, but many factors can negatively affect a child's grades, from medical or intellectual problems, poverty, lack of educational stimulation and advantages, disability, lack of sleep, or stress at home. Teachers want parents to look for (and appreciate) consistent progress instead of perfect grades.
18 The Apple Doesn't Fall Far From The Tree
It should come as no surprise that big bullies raise little bullies and disrespectful adults raise disrespectful students, and no one understands this more than teachers.
A parent's behavior is strongly correlated to the behavior of their child, both in and out of school, so be a good role model. Several recent studies have confirmed that parenting styles (both permissive and strict) affect the likelihood of a child becoming a bully.
Similarly, if a parent is apathetic or critical about education/teachers, then the child will be, too. If a parent says to their child, "teachers don't know what they're talking about," then their child is not going to respect the teacher or follow the rules.
Trust me, bad attitudes are a learned behavior.
17 It's Okay Not To Get The Best Grades
Overparenting is characterized as a parent's "misguided attempt to improve their child's current and future personal and academic success." The efforts can include finishing your child's homework for them, "helping" a little too much with their projects, or going out of your way to deliver forgotten homework assignments or lunches to their school whenever they need you to.
This behavior is what one study described as "high responsiveness and low demandingness." These parents are highly responsive to the perceived needs and issues of their children and don't give their children the chance to solve their own problems.
In the end, the happiest and most successful students are allowed to fail and are held responsible for their missteps.
16 Sorry, Your Kid Is Just Lazy
All teachers want the kids in their class to learn and grow (and ultimately succeed) throughout the school year, but it's hard to push someone who doesn't want to move. If a student is making frequent, basic errors, they could just be lazy. Some parents like to claim that their child is bored, implying they're not being "challenged enough," but it's almost impossible to teach a student whose parents have convinced them that they know it all already.
The truth is, most kids are motivated, but not by what we think should motivate them.
Parents need to help their children prioritize what's important instead of getting frustrated and angry with their child (or the teacher).
15 Your Child Is NOT Your Friend
We aren't saying they won't eventually be your friend, but when they're in school, kids need parents. Teachers often hear mothers say, "my daughter's my best friend," but trust me, your daughter doesn't need a 40-year-old best friend, they need a responsible parent that will offer them guidance and boundaries.
Your child needs to study for their biology test, not hang out in the coffee shop and listen to you complain about Deborah from Accounting.
Trust me, kids have their own (age-appropriate) problems to deal with without listening to your adult ones. It's hard for a child to respect adults and boundaries in school when the expectation is not there at home.
14 Stop Making Excuses For Them
If you really want your child to be successful, stop making excuses for them. If they're not turning their work in on time, then you need to hold them accountable for it and they need to accept the consequences. When a teacher calls a parent in to talk with them about their child's behavior, parents will often rationalize their child's behavior by claiming that they are "stressed," or saying "kids will be kids."
Remember, permissive parenting only encourages ill-advised behavior. As your child grows up and becomes an adult, the people in his or her life won’t accept excuses for their behavior (and neither will the legal system).
13 We Can Tell When You've Done Their Work
Teachers know when a parent does their child's work for them, particularly when it's a project. Let's get real, a third-grade student can barely write their name legibly, much less concoct a five-paragraph thesis on photosynthesis.
Teachers understand that it's often easier (and less messy) to "assist" kids with their projects, but in the end, the child has to be able to honestly say that they did it themselves.
It's okay to help them with the glue gun, but you have to take a step back and let them struggle with it all by themselves. Remember, it's THEIR project, not yours, so stop micromanaging.
12 Give Them A Bedtime
Falling asleep in class can be due to bouts of insomnia, boredom, or disruptions at home, but when it's a continued behavior it does suggest that maybe they're playing Fortnite at 2 a.m. instead of sleeping. "Bedtime" doesn't just mean your kids are in their room for the night and out of your sight, it means they're actually SLEEPING. For children of all ages, a good night's sleep is IMPORTANT.
A study from Dalhousie University, in Nova Scotia, found that the repercussions of sleep deprivation are visible after only four nights of one fewer hour of sleep per night.
Lack of sleep doesn't just negatively affect school performance, it also affects a child's growth, heart health, and more.
11 Stop Complaining About Their Homework
Parents LOVE to pitch a fit about homework. There's either too much of it, too little of it, it's too easy, or it's too hard. In the end, despite your personal feelings regarding the quality or amount of the work, every child needs to learn to do what's expected of them and that sometimes includes doing assignments at home. Also, please don't waste a teacher's time with excuses as to why or how your child missed or lost their homework. If the child has a valid reason for not turning in their work, then allow them to explain this to the teacher themselves.
You're not their student, why would they want to hear from you?!
10 Kids Aren't Always Honest
Parents will often schedule conferences with the teacher to discuss something that's been going on in the classroom that isn't actually going on in the classroom.
In other words, sometimes kids lie (yes, even yours). Hold back on your accusations and consider the fact that your child might not be telling you the whole truth. If a teacher saw your child pinch their classmate, what reason would they have to lie?
Your child, however, would have plenty of reason to claim that it never happened. Despite what some parents seem to think, their kids are NOT always perfect and are bound to make mistakes.
Trust me, your kid picks up on your stress, so chill out a little bit. After sending out a list of school supplies to the parents at the start of the year, Kindergarten teacher Olivia Davidson said one parent simply couldn't handle the stress of...buying glue sticks?!
“She [sent me a ton of] emails—and this was in August!” says Davidson. “I’m a mother myself, and so I get it, but this woman showed up with three different types of glue.”
Parents of older children are often the source of their children's stress, particularly when it comes to applying for colleges and extracurricular activities. Your kid doesn't have to be the best in the class or the best on the team to be a success.
8 Your Kid Is Hard To Handle
Some kids are just hard, and your kid might be one of them. When a child is continually disruptive in class it can make a teacher want to rip their hair out, and no amount of excuses is going to make them feel any better.
Trust me, it's not always easy to practice "compassionate discipline" when you're underpaid, overworked and in charge of 24 other fifth graders.
Some kids talk back, some climb on tables, some refuse to stay on task, some bully other students, some brag to other students, and some simply won't listen. In the end, the teacher needs the parent to PARTNER with them in addressing the behavior instead of arguing with them over whether it's actually happening.
7 We Have Our Own Families, Too
Just like you, most teachers have lives outside of their job and like to spend time with their own families. It's okay if your teacher doesn't respond to your e-mail about the upcoming field trip at 6 p.m. on a Monday, because when they walk out of that building they are OFF DUTY. Teachers can't always help your child with their homework over the phone, especially if they're busy helping their own kids.
Would you expect a lawyer or doctor to call you back at 11 p.m.? Of course not, so you shouldn't expect that kind of ridiculousness from them.
6 Your Kid Repeats EVERYTHING
GUESS WHAT! If you tell your kids that you don't like their teacher, the teacher is going to know about it. If you fuss about the amount of homework that's been assigned, the student is going to fuss about it, too.
Kids listen to pretty much everything you say, so you better watch your mouth unless you don't mind it being repeated.
Just like you talk about your kids at work, your kids like to talk about you at school. They mention how you helped them with homework (or didn't), they give details about the vacation you took last week when they were "sick," and also have zero problems discussing your addictions and disciplinary tactics.
5 No News Is Good News
Parents often get disgruntled about not hearing from their child's teacher as often as they feel they should, but in the end, no news is good news. My son's class has 34 kids in it. THIRTY-FOUR! I can't even imagine how many emails his teacher receives in one week regarding lunches, absences, conferences, homework, etc. When teachers aren't teaching they're almost always in a meeting with the parents of a disruptive child or the school's administration and sometimes they simply run out of time.
If you're not hearing from your child's teacher, then consider it a sign that they're doing everything they should be doing at school. If you want a conference to discuss the details, don't be afraid to reach out and schedule one.
4 It's Not Just About YOUR Kid
In elementary school, a teacher has approximately 25 other students besides yours to think about. In middle school, they have approximately 150. In high school, they can have hundreds. In other words, the whole world doesn't revolve around your kid; There are a ton of other children to consider.
If the school determines that your child is "gifted," you can rest assured that your child will be given appropriately challenging coursework.
If you determine your child is gifted, but not the school, you can't expect the teacher to come up with a tailor-made lesson plan on the weekends specifically so that your precious angel doesn't get "bored" in class. Honestly, manage your expectations.
3 You And Your Kid Are NOT The Exceptions To The Rule
Believe it or not, there are just as many grown-ups who believe the rules don't apply to them as there are students. When you don’t follow the rules, you’re also teaching your child that they don’t have to follow the rules.
Remember, you and your child are not the exceptions to the rule. Just because you volunteer in class every Wednesday afternoon doesn't mean that you have clearance to park in the staff parking lot or to hold up the carpool line at the end of the day. When the school requests that all visitors "buzz in," that includes you, too, Linda.
2 Don't Question Our Professional Advice
The lack of respect for teachers among parents in this country is just alarming. According to a recent study,
Fifty-four percent of parents don't want their children to grow up to be educators and, in certain groups, trust and confidence in teachers are at an all-time low.
Just like a doctor or a lawyer (or any other professional), teachers go to college and then have to pass multiple certification exams. In other words, they know what they're talking about. If your doctor diagnosed you with the flu, would you refuse to be treated for it? Of course not. Similarly, if you ask a teacher for advice, then you should take it.
1 Your Kid Hides Things From You To Protect Themselves
Parents love to believe that they know their kids like the back of their hand, but sometimes kids hide things from their parents in order to protect themselves. Did they really lose their lunch money for the sixth time in the row, or are they being bullied and just not telling you about it for fear of being labeled a "snitch?" Are they hiding their grades from you because they're weary of your reaction? Are they only giving you part of the story so that you'll get off their back?
Many times, parents don't see what's going on right in front of them because they don't want it to be true, so be mindful of that.