Karen Stamp, a kindergarten teacher at Marshall Elementary School in Prince William County, said parents need to remember “that they are their child’s first teacher and their lifetime teacher.” Part of being a lifetime teacher, she said, is teaching your child how to deal with making mistakes.
“Make mistakes, and let them see that you can make mistakes and laugh at it so they will think it’s not a big deal and you can move on easily,” Stamp said.
2. Use e-mail to keep in touch
E-mail is a great way to reach your child’s teacher without having to play phone tag, said Caitlin Liston, a sixth-grade science teacher at Silver Spring International Middle School.
“E-mail is great for teachers because we can have a record of a conversation or print things out to put in a student’s file as a reminder,” Liston said. “If parents are hearing what their students are struggling in, they should feel comfortable talking to the teacher about it. We want to know that they need more help.”
That communication shouldn’t be limited to when there’s a problem, said Tammie Ferguson, a first-grade teacher at Seldens Landing Elementary School in Loudoun County.
“It’s important that there’s a lot of positive communication going back and forth . . . to say, ‘Hey, your child did a great job today,’ ” Ferguson said. It’s also “very refreshing for teachers to hear that their students are talking about what they’ve learned in school.”
3. Don’t tell your child that you weren’t good at math
Parents might feel intimidated by the thought of helping children with their math homework, especially in the upper grades.
“I wish parents didn’t tell their kids, ‘It’s okay, I’ve always been bad at math, too,’ ” said Kim Jackson, a math teacher at Farmwell Station Middle School in Loudoun County. “You would never say that about reading. . . . Math is here to serve you, not to trip you up. It’s here to make life easier, and a lot of that can start at home with parents showing that they’re not intimidated by numbers.”
One way to make math more accessible, Jackson said, is to relate it to daily activities, whether it’s tipping at a restaurant or calculating statistics at a sporting event. Rachel Gallagher, a fifth-grade teacher at Loudoun County’s Horizon Elementary School, agreed.
“Capitalize on those day-to-day things where math comes up rather than drilling kids on math facts,” Gallagher said. “That way you’re really engaging kids and letting them see how what they’re learning matters in life.”
4. Get organized with a color-coded system
Older students are expected to be more independent and manage their assignments themselves, but as they transition from elementary school to middle school, they might find it hard to keep track of everything. Maryam Thomas, a resource teacher who coordinates services for low-income students at Charles Carroll Middle School in Prince George’s County, recommends using color-coordinated folders, notebooks and composition books to help kids keep their material for different subjects organized.