I have come across two different articles however they are linked in some ways. The first one is an article written by Ron Clark for CNN.com. The article is titled, What teachers really want to tell parents. The article is referring to teachers in the US however I feel that we can apply it to Canada or anywhere.

Many, not all, teachers enter the field because they love children, they love to teach and they want to impact their lives by providing them with tools to succeed in life; what I call life skills. The article shares the story of an administrator that received an award for being the administrator of the year in her state. She is loved and adored by all. Despite this she decided to leave the profession because “she just cannot deal with the parents anymore – they are killing us”.

This is a sentiment that is becoming more and more prevalent. Today, new teachers remain in the profession on average for just 4.5 years and many of them list “issues with parents” as one of their reasons for throwing in the towel.

The problem is that we have created an environment in our schools that needs to change. I say this from two angles. First how parents look at our education system and second the system itself. Let’s deal with the first point.

When I was growing up my parents really put the onus on me to learn, study and do my homework. This really meant that I needed to create solid skills and a good work ethic to get all my work done and do it well. I did turn to my mother at times to critique or edit my work however I did the work. I know of parents that do their children’s assignments to “ensure” a good grade. This does not make any sense to me. Guide my children, yes, but do their work for them, no.

In this article it states what the teachers want parent’s to know:

For starters, we are educators, not nannies. We are educated professionals who work with kids every day and often see your child in a different light than you do. If we give you advice, don’t fight it. Take it, and digest it in the same way you would consider advice from a doctor or lawyer.

Some parents do not want to hear anything negative about their child, “not my child”. Well sometimes it is your child and they need to learn their lesson. This includes me and my children as well. I will support and stand up for my child when I feel either has been wronged (for lack of a better word) however I have also told each one that they need to learn to stand up and speak their truth on their own. I want my children to “fall down” and learn to get back up. Does it pain me, yes, however these life lessons are the ones that will carry them through life.

In the teaching world, the parents that swoop in to save their child each and every time are referred to as helicopter parents. These are the parents that will argue for their child to raise a grade from 79 to 80. Rather than considering that this is the grade that your child earned and if the child wants to improve his/her mark than he/she needs to discuss this with the child him/herself.

Saying that, I have been with teachers that cannot be objective and bring in their own subjectivity. They may not agree with your initial thesis or argument on a paper, however, this is irrelevant if the student has clearly supported his/her position. In this instance I suggest challenging the teacher – but not your parent(s) rather you, the student.

In this article the teacher is asking the parent to take a step back at times and choose to be a partner vs. being a prosecutor. Parents need to deal with negative situations in a professional manner. If your child said something happened in the classroom that concerns you as the parent, then ask to meet with the teacher and approach the situation by stating, “it has come to my attention that xxxx has happened I want to find out more details for I know that things can be exaggerated and blown out of proportion”. At the same time you want to give your child the benefit of the doubt and support them. Approaching this to find out what happened (and by the way, I was not always good at that – my “ex” had to calm me down sometimes) allows all parties to be informed and make good decisions.

Here is to my second point and that is that schools systems need to change and be challenged. In Canada we have put an enormous amount of effort into Math, Science and English. So much that we have lost sight of creativity and innovation as being equally essential and the life skills and tools that we too need to carry us through our lives. In fact, some including myself will argue that it is our ability to be creative and think outside the box that will differentiate us from our fellow students/competitors. Therefore, as a partner all parties need to work together to create programs that will give the students this as well. If the teachers and principal do not see this than I feel that they need to be challenged.

That second article I want to draw on is written by someone I have a lot of respect for – Joanne Kates. She is an expert educator in the area of conflict mediation, self-esteem, and anti-bullying. In one of her article she talks about the “Super-Parent” or not! Why I want to include this article is that somewhere along the lines we have moved away from the truth of what our role as a parent is to be. I love the way Joanne Kates describes the role of the parent. She says, “from the moment our children are born, part of our task, if we are to be the best parents we can be, is to see them as separate people.”

Before you choose to step in and be that helicopter parent or Superhero parent, ask yourself some questions:

Does my child really need to be rescued now?
What would happen if, instead of doing this for my child right now, I helped them figure out how to do this for themselves?

These questions can be applied any time to any situation. YOu can begin to think of yourself as a great coach. A great coach believes in your abilities, and then he/she helps you grow those abilities and finally he/she can help you celebrate them.

In order for us as parents to encourage and “grow” great children we need to allow them to create strong wings for them to fly. That means stepping back and letting them “fall down” and showing them how to get right back up. When they get up you can help them look at the lesson learned: take what worked and discard/tweak what didn’t.

I want to wish everyone a wonderful weekend.

All my love,

Sandra

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