One thing we know about Florida Education Association members is they are deeply committed to the success of every student. They also set high expectations for their students, and parents play an important role in helping children meet those expectations. The partnership between parent and teacher is of utmost importance. As Christina, a teacher from Pensacola, put it: “You and I are on the same side; we are both on team ‘student.’ ”
Before the start of the 2019-2020 school year, we asked FEA members what advice they would give to parents to help their children have a great school year. All agreed that teachers and education support staff want parents to know that they are there for every child.
Christy, a science teacher from St. Petersburg, encourages parents to help students focus more on the process of learning than on grades. She suggests parents think about: Is my child doing the work and doing it well? Is he trying to learn more? Is she fully focusing and participating? Does he persist even when learning gets hard (because it will sometimes)?
As Christina, a teacher from Pensacola, put it: “You and I are on the same side; we are both on team ‘student.’ ”
Here are some of our members’ other thoughts and suggestions for parents.
Be involved in your child’s learning process
Kissimmee elementary teacher Warrene asks that parents be actively involved with their child’s learning, and we heard that echoed by many of our members.
Being involved can start with a simple question.“Ask them about their day, check that they’re doing homework. AND hold them accountable,” writes Gretel, a Miami Lakes ELA and social studies secondary teacher.
Social studies teacher Paul from Orlando suggests parents take time to read the textbook assignments. “They are not long and will help students identify misconceptions as well as introduce parents to concepts covered in class,” he writes.
“Children who have good routines at home are better prepared to learn in school,” explains Martha, an Exceptional Student Education (ESE) teacher from Loxahatchee.
Sometimes building a routine can seem overwhelming to parents. Mark, a social studies teacher from Lake Placid, understands hectic schedules but encourages parents to make time. “Please find ways to support your kids’ education,” Mark says, “even if it is only reading with your child for 10 minutes a night or even just spend 2 minutes looking over their homework. You don’t have to spend an hour every night with your child to support them.”
Heather, who teaches first grade in Margate, knows that parents are juggling work and home demands but notes: “Being involved is key. Helping your child be on time to school, be prepared and please try to pay attention to letters or notes coming home.”
Renee, a fourth-grade teacher from Eustis, adds that it helps to get organized. “Get the kids on a schedule including designated time after school for homework or studying plus appropriate bedtime. Designate a place for them to put important papers from school that need parent attention and a set place for their backpack so it will be ready for the morning rush.”
Always encourage your child to try
Jean, an algebra teacher from Orlando, places encouragement number one on her list of what parents can do to help their child be successful. “Just encourage kids to try. It is important to spend at least 20 minutes going over examples and trying to do assigned homework. It is OK to tell your child you are not good at math, but in the same conversation you should always encourage the child to put his or her best effort in learning because math is very important.”
Melissa, who teaches fourth-grade math in West Palm Beach, advises parents: “For students coming into third and fourth grade, practice, practice, practice multiplication facts to get your children ready for the upcoming school year.”
Communication with your child’s teacher is key
“Maintain a strong communication link with the teacher(s),” writes Christina, a kindergarten Exceptional Student Education (ESE) paraprofessional from Brandon. “Listen to what the teacher has to say. The teacher will listen to you. Together we can help your child have a great school year.”
Rochelle, a Palm Beach ESE teacher, suggests including your child in conversations with their teacher. “Speak with the teacher and your child together so that communication is clear and expectations are understood.”
Sophia from Miramar, an English language arts teacher, wants parents to come to the school and participate in their child’s events. “The more present you are the better. Show up to their events on campus.” Sophia explains, “Children work harder when they know that someone from home is watching and rooting for them. Ideally, we teachers want to speak with every parent during the school year. If you don’t hear from us, please reach out. We like to talk to you about good stuff also.”
We can’t say it enough: Please read with your child
“Reading at home 30 minutes to an hour for enjoyment will create a reader for life,” says Susan, a Tallahassee English language arts teacher.
Is your child glued to the TV or iPad? There is mounting evidence warning parents that this may be harmful to their kids. Replacing devices with reading time can be a good option. “Limiting devices and encouraging reading every night will benefit their child for years to come,” writes Stacy, a Hobe Sound fourth-grade teacher. “This is important for every student from K-12th grade.”
And for parents of “the big kids” who will be moving on after this year
Middle and high school students face even more challenges — one of which is trying to find their path. Veronica, an English teacher from Largo, wants parents to know that opportunities for kids to be successful in life aren’t dependent upon passing a test. “Going to alternative schools besides college is also a great idea for a lot of kids.”
The bottom line is our members want to inspire your child’s natural curiosity, imagination and love of learning. As education partners, parents and teachers nurture these values and help grow tomorrow’s inventors, thinkers, electricians, lawyers, doctors, nurses, artists and leaders. In other words: Working together we prepare kids for their future. Basic skills are part of the equation, but of all the things we want to teach our kids, the most important is love of learning.