What teachers wish parents knew

When it comes to helping children thrive at school, a great partnership between parents and teachers is vital. We asked a few teachers to write in and let us know what they think are the most important things for parents to know. There may be things that you wish teachers knew too! We hope these thoughts inspire you to book a time with one of your child’s teachers, and get chatting. You may just find that the partnership comes easier than you think.

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Year 2 teacher

Teachers have so much love in their hearts for each and every single one of their students. But treating students fairly does not mean treating them the same. We want all of our students to succeed – even the student perceived as the troublemaker. Rather than requesting your child to be separated from the ‘troublemaker’, trust that we are working with them, and quite often their parents, to encourage that child to make wiser choices and treat others respectfully.

But we need you and your child to work with us to give them a second, third, fourth and maybe 20th chance to better themselves and develop more positive friendships. Remember your child is also learning life skills such as resilience, tolerance and self-control by learning how to respond appropriately to inappropriate behaviour.

After having spent six hours at school, children do not need to go home and spend a further six hours on homework. Definitely spend time listening to them read and practise their weekly spelling words, but ensure they also have time every day to just be kids. Bake with them, go on a bike ride, build a hut, play a board game – you’d be surprised just how many life skills they are developing through simple activities such as these. Perhaps this is something to consider before asking the teacher for extra reading, spelling or maths homework for your child. 


P.E. teacher

Intermediate is a good time to encourage your child’s independence before they reach high school, and to establish home as a place of support. Realistically, high school teachers see 150 different kids a day. So your child needs support from home too.

School bullying used to happen between the hours of 8.30am and 3pm. Now it can now happen 24 hours a day because of social media. As teachers and parents, we need to have a consistent voice when it comes to kids having good boundaries around the use of technology, as well as instilling good values in them like kindness and respect.

Humanities teacher

I know many parents fear being that parent, but you do know your child best and we really are open to feedback. We can fix most problems if we know about them early enough. Your child’s education is the most precious gift you can give them, so they need you to be there to advocate for them. Please also know that we are not judging you or your family based on the one silly thing that your child may have done – they are human and will make mistakes. It’s all just a part of the journey. .

In many cases, the teacher has over 20 (sometimes over 30) minds to stimulate and they need your help. So please, read to them every night, help them complete the spelling homework, discuss current affairs and help them to make sense of the world around them through questioning and exploration.

Try not to compare your child’s academic journey to that of another student. Each child will move at their own pace – they’ll take steps forward and a few backwards too. As a home and school partnership, we need to build students’ learning self-esteem. With a healthy mindset, children are willing to try, and appreciate that if they don’t understand something it is just a ‘not yet’ moment, and are curious and confident enough to try again.

High school

Science and biology teacher

In high school, one student will have many teachers across their subjects, limiting the amount of time teachers can spend with them one-on-one. If you’re concerned about how your child is progressing with a particular subject, I would encourage you to get in touch with the teacher in the first instance. Simply expressing a concern, relaying what your child’s view is, asking for more information and the teacher’s point of view, opens up a meaningful dialogue. This ensures that the area of concern is addressed, and as a result, the teacher-parent-student relationship is less likely to be harmed.

This is not to say that your child is not to be believed if they express a concern! It might be that he/she is comfortable telling you that they’re having difficulty with something, but aren’t comfortable telling the teacher. By opening the lines of communication, we are in a better position to help. Most teachers will be incredibly receptive to a parent who gets in touch, expressing concern and an active interest in being a part of their child’s education.

Soft materials technology teacher

Don’t be afraid if your child doesn’t have a natural love for English, science or maths. Some children have amazing talents in design and problem-solving, and these skills are incredibly valuable in today’s marketplace. Woodwork, sewing and cooking don’t exist as subjects anymore – the subject is ‘technology’ and it is about solving real-world problems. If your child enjoys this subject – fantastic! It will stand them in good stead for any career.

Attend a Toolbox parenting course

Toolbox courses inspire and equip whānau. They are bursting with great advice, humour and encouragement, offering practical strategies and insights into developmental stages. Parents leave reassured that challenges are common to all families and that they’re not alone on their parenting journey. The courses are run over a number of weeks in a relaxed and conversational small group setting with a trained facilitator. The five courses – Building Awesome Whānau, Baby and Toddler Years, Primary Years, Intermediate Years, and Teenage Years. Find out more and register here.