Here’s a list of things that parents, teachers and others should not do to students — assembled with the help of kids and young adults.
Of course, a broader list would start with:
“Don’t give children useless standardized tests.”
“Don’t think a child who can’t see the blackboard and doesn’t get enough sleep will do well on those all-important tests.”
But this is a different sort of list.
Don’t go to back-to-school night and ask specific questions about your child right after the principal tells you not to do it.
No one there wants to hear about your child.
Don’t make first-graders feel bad for not reading well by the end of the year — and don’t always insist that kids read what adults want them to read.
Children develop at different rates and many don’t start reading well until second and even third grade. Unfortunately, curriculum has been pushed down into the earlier grades so much that many kids are deemed slow if they aren't reading well by second grade. In addition, teachers and parents too often think kids should read what they want them to read. If you really want a child to learn to love to read, let him/her pick out the books as much as possible. Even if the book seems too easy, or too hard, or too strange. It’s better for kids to read anything than not to read.
Don’t kiss, hug or otherwise show any affection to your middle schooler when you drop him or her off at school, bring cake into class for his or her birthday or any other time if other children are present.
At about 10 to 11 years old — or fifth to sixth grades — kids think that pretty much anything their parents do is embarrassing. Don’t make things worse by doing something embarrassing in front of other kids.
Adults should not tell teenagers that they need to be asleep by 11 p.m., and they should stop pretending that it makes sense for high school to start early in the morning.
It is indisputably true that for biological reasons, teenagers have a different sleep cycle from people both younger and older than they are, says sleep expert Helen Emsellem, author of “Snooze . . .Or Lose!” That means that it is nearly a biological impossibility for them to get to sleep before 11 p.m. or even midnight. The National Sleep Foundation says that teenagers require about 9 hours of sleep every night — but only 8 percent actually get it, and, in fact, as much as two-thirds get less than seven hours of a sleep a night. If a teenager can’t fall asleep before midnight, but has to get out of bed by 5 or 6 a.m. to get on a school bus, sleep deprivation is unavoidable, and the consequences are real, affecting academic achievement and overall quality of life.
Adults should never watch anybody harass/bully a student without stepping in to stop it.
Bullying is a very real and dangerous problem and one of the critical ways to stop it is for bystanders to safely step in. It’s hard enough for kids to learn how to do that — and virtually impossible if they see the adults in the room letting it go. This applies to every adult in a school building.
No matter how wealthy you are, do not let your child drive a new Mercedes, an Audi sports car or a snazzy convertible to school. Other luxury cars apply, too.
This should require no explanation, but here it is anyway: Kids need to learn how to work for their toys, and that if you expect them to work hard in school toward their futures, they shouldn’t have fancy cars be handed to them. Also, everybody else at school will pretend to like your child but pretty much won’t.
Don’t do your kids’ homework for them.
This is so obvious that you may wonder why it is on the list. But you might be surprised how many people do it and then delude themselves into thinking their kid really did it. Teachers can tell when a catapult made out of toothpicks is made by a dad rather than a fifth-grader, and whether a sixth-grade paper about the Middle Ages was written by mom.
Don’t drink, smoke pot or pop Ecstasy with your kids, and don’t let them have parties and pretend they aren’t draining your alcohol cabinet.
Indulging with your kids is among the worst parenting mistakes you can make. Your kids may think you are cool for the moment but later will think you are idiotic. Also, there can be legal liability if you let kids drink at your house, and even more if you then let them drive. Not to mention it’s just so stupid.
Don’t send a nasty e-mail to a teacher, even if a teacher does something legitimately annoying.
This will never end well for the parent or their children. It is also rude. If you have a problem with a teacher, try to deal with it in person. If that doesn’t work, go to the principal. If that doesn’t work, call a reporter.
Don’t try to solve your college-age students’ problems for them.
Don’t call intern coordinators to complain about student internships; don’t get in the way of roommate disputes (unless there is criminal behavior going on), and never never never e-mail the school president to complain about parking issues. Or, in fact, just about anything else. Let kids start owning their own lives and solving their own problems. It’s time for helicopter parents to stay grounded.
Follow The Answer Sheet every day by bookmarking www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet .