By Lisa Payne | @lisaapayne4
Your child’s teacher spent their summer planning, contemplating, Pinteresting, and reading so they can bring the very best they have to offer your child this school year. I’ve been an early childhood special educator for almost 20 years, both in the classroom and out of the classroom supporting other teachers in my district. My teams and I think through complex situations and put together support plans to help students be successful in the classroom. Drawing on this experience, and the best feedback I’ve received from my own four kids’ teachers, I’ve compiled a few ideas on how to support your child’s teacher this year:
Monetary donation for book orders: To give every child a book each month that they can keep, many teachers have started asking for donations for book orders. There are several $1 books in each book order, so you can donate any amount to help ($20-$25 can usually support the entire classroom for a month, or $10 to support a child for the year). Every little bit helps.
Amazon Wishlist: Many teachers today will create an Amazon wishlist for classroom wants/needs. Things to support daily life in the classroom, new ideas, STEAM projects, classroom family, etc. Ask your child’s teacher if they have one.
Donors Choose: Many teachers will write a mini-grant to support their classrooms. They are posted on Donors Choose, and you can donate to a project(s)/teacher(s) of your choice.
Gift of time
Volunteer in the classroom to set up or take down bulletin boards, clean, organize or spend time with the kids.
Be a guest reader (in person or via an online platform, or a video recording).
Ask the teacher to send home things with your child that need to be stapled, put into packets, cut, laminated, labeled, etc.
Ask your child’s teacher if they are looking for any gently used items/toys/books.
Send a note of thanks/gratitude/encouragement. Saying “I see you…” goes a long way and can be the validation your child’s teacher needs that day.
Celebrate successes you see in your child with their teacher. Everyone has a hand in helping our children develop!
Ask the office or the teacher if they have a favorites list. Choose something to send in at random.
Reach out to other parents around holidays or milestone moments to coordinate a class gift (lunch/dinner for the teacher/classroom staff, $5 donations to a group gift/gift card, ask for them to help assemble a themed dinner basket)
Partnerships in Communication
Build a solid foundation of communication with your child’s teacher by letting them know you care about them and your child’s experience. Make the first call, or send the first note and talk about what you like or appreciate, or what your child has said they like the best about school.
If things seem rocky, or you have a concern, ask clarifying questions about the matter to understand the teacher’s perspective. Positive intent and perspective-taking go a LONG way when dealing with conflict. No one likes to have uncomfortable conversations, but they are important to understand systems and decisions that were either misrepresented, misunderstood, or not agreed upon. Take a step to right the ship so everyone can get back on course.
Remember that it takes time to build a school family with your child’s educator. You’ve got this!
Lisa Payne | @lisaapayne4
Lisa is a single mother of four beautiful humans. She loves to write, share experiences and help others look at goal setting and attaining! By day, she’s an early childhood special educator in a school district, where she works with other teachers on setting and attaining goals, working through the tricky spots together. By night, she’s a chauffeur extraordinaire taking her children (and other people’s children) to sports, theater activities and to be with friends. Faith is one of her lifelines, as is connecting with others. A phrase you’ll hear her say often (to herself or others): “You’ve totally got this! Totally.”