Here are a few things I wish I could tell all parents...from the desk of Mrs. Ashmore.
1. READ, READ, READ and READ SOME MORE with your child! Take them to libraries, talk excitedly about books, read them your favorite books, use books and reading times as rewards, have them read books to you...even have them write their own books. I can't tell you what a difference it makes on their academic performance. Parents always want me to give them a secret magical formula for success. And this is it. It is so simple, and yet has an insanely huge impact.
2. Throw the video games away. Every year, the kids with the worst ADHD....the ones with violent tendencies when things aren't going their way...the ones who drive me absolutely bonkers....are the ones who talk incessantly of video games. This may sound a bit dramatic...but video games will rot your child's brain.
3. Your kids are so capable. It's amazing what they can accomplish with some responsibility, direction, and trust. Stop doing everything for them and give them a chance to step up.
4. Talk to your child. This is the single most effective way to build their vocabularies. Low numbers of vocabulary words in a child's knowledge base will greatly inhibit their reading acquisition. Those entering school with lower vocabularies will almost never catch up to their peers. Talking with your children will give them practice with language, grammar, and interacting with others...all necessary skills. And it just makes them feel good to have you listen. =)
5. Missing school IS a big deal. Those two days that your child was absent in order to babysit her younger siblings, she missed our lessons on nouns, breaking syllables, using guide words in a dictionary, explanation of the weekly vocabulary words, the spelling list phonics pattern, and multiplying by sevens facts. I simply do not have the time to re-teach those entire lessons just for your child! And everything they learn tends to build on the previous lessons. The big hole in their education stemming from those two days can haunt them for years.
6. Birthday invitations. I know it's convenient for you just to send them to school with your child to pass out to their friends...but you don't see the look on the kid's faces who aren't invited. It crushes their little hearts...and mine. Invite everyone, or send them in the mail.
7. Don't be a helicopter parent. Hovering protectively nearby to swoop in and save your child from consequence or discomfort, robs them of learning any lessons from those oh-so-important learning experiences (See # 3 above). Let me also mention, this type of parenting creates wussy crybabies. And they have to learn real fast that crying does not prompt me to swoop in and fix every little situation for them like would happen at home.
8. I know everything about you by the end of the school year...whether I want to or not. I know your level of education, the state of your marriage, your economic status, your religion, your values, your manners, whether you like me or not, your parenting skills, your top priorities, and even occasionally, your sex life. Kid's talk. Watch what you say.
9. Your child may be the center of your universe, but I have to share mine with 25 others. I saw this statement as part of a list found in the Reader's Digest a year or so ago. I love it. LOVE. IT. Often times, parents don't understand that I am working myself to the bone for their child...but I am spread rather thin.There is only so much I can do as a single person. Be nice to and understanding with your child's teacher!
10. I really do know what I'm talking about. I may look young, but I am a trained professional. I spent 4+ years learning how to educate your child, and I have several additional years of practical experience in this art. Don't discount my ideas because I can't possibly know what's best for your child. You may disagree. But do so politely, please.
11. Don't label your child in front of them. I have had so many parents inform me, with their child standing right there: "Suzy is so smart in math but will need a lot of help with reading." or "Steven is shy, so he may struggle making friends." "Billy is smart, he's just really lazy." People! Do you not understand what your words are doing?? Children will, rise up to meet your expectations. If you tell them they are a poor reader, shy, or lazy...they will become and always be, a poor reader, shy, or lazy. Those stereotypes are nearly impossible to break through.
12. I really do care about your kid. A lot. Please don't assume that I am "out to get him" if I need to share some academic or behavioral struggles with you. We are on the same team.