By Courtney Tucker

I firmly believe that there are certain jobs in life that everyone should be able to experience for at least a day. This experience would bring a greater appreciation for what these jobs entail and would create empathy with the general public. In my personal opinion, a few of these jobs that I think we should all experience are waiting tables, health care, retail sales, armed forces, and educators. I am sure there are many others, but today, our guest blogger, Courtney, gives us a glimpse into the life of a teacher, along with a few suggestions for parents. Keep these ideas in mind as you kick off the 2014 school year! ~Rachel

Six Things I’ve Learned as a Teacher That Might Not Have Occurred to You as a Parent

1. Lack of routine and little structure at home almost always means difficulty with routines and structure at school. This seems obvious, but as a teacher I see it every day. A parent is unorganized or un-involved in the child’s time and activities after school and then they expect the student to get to school and adjust accordingly to the schedules and rigorous expectations there. It’s hard for an adult to switch such environments daily so why should we expect our kids to do it well if we can’t?

2. A well-timed email to your child’s teachers to say “Hi! How’s my kid doing? I saw his ______ project and it looked like he’d worked hard on it” the week before the end of the grading period will be remembered as the teacher is entering grades. Every quarter as I’m finalizing report cards I associate a student with a conversation or a note that I’ve had (or not had) with their parent recently.

3. Another thing I have learned as a teacher is that the importance of reading with your elementary school child, or encouraging library visits for your older child is often underestimated. I have learned that reading skills are invaluable. If parents read, kids are more likely to read and if parents take advantage of the resources offered for free at our public libraries then their kids are more likely to be successful at school. I’ve heard parents complain that the library waiting lists are too long for popular fiction, but the point I’m making is that simply visiting the library regularly is a powerful tool that a parent can use to help their children succeed.

4. One of the best gifts you can give a teacher is to give them one day of duty-free lunch or one afternoon of no bus duty. It only takes about 20 minutes of volunteer time and it will be oh so very appreciated.

5. As a teacher I have learned that middle and high school students give a lot of presentations, often one each week in a variety of different classes. Ask your child if they have a presentation this week and ask them to rehearse it for you. You can offer valuable feedback and it will help them relax when they give the presentation in front of their peers.

6. Cyberbullying happens whether or not your child has access to a computer/smartphone/internet at home. Meet your kids on social media sites. Talk with your child about cyber safety. Have the conversation that says, “Hey, I care about you and it is your responsibility along with everyone else to make sure that it’s a safe world… that includes reporting bullying incidents and not forwarding an embarrassing photo of a peer.” Tell them to imagine walking a mile in someone else’s shoes and then model it as an adult.

Parenting is hard. Let’s help each other do a better job of it. Any tips or things you have found especially important as a parent? Please leave ideas in the comments.