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A lot of parents are involved in the PTA or school foundations, but when they help teachers directly, the benefits multiply. By modeling and reinforcing good behaviors and providing much-needed classroom supplies, parents give educators more time to actually teach.
You may not think your kids pay any attention to you, especially if they’re teenagers, but teachers insist that parents really can influence students’ behaviors and feelings about learning.
“The biggest gift any parent can give teachers is support for the necessity of hard work and learning,” says Kevin Daugherty, a high school English teacher in Springfield, MO. “If parents value our mission, efforts and due dates, their child will benefit. Parents who model responsibility and love of learning get some automatic transfer-of-training effect in how their kids approach education and life.”
It’s also helpful to reinforce the teacher’s classroom procedures, particularly for younger children. “Clear procedures provide routines, keep the clutter down and maximize learning, so teachers establish regular routines and have kids practice them in class,” explains Carrie Deahl, a high school teacher in Phoenix, AZ. Ask your children and their teachers about procedures in their classes, and use them at home during homework time.
Parents who volunteer in their children’s classrooms have additional opportunities to show students how to be good learners, explain why learning matters, and help teachers reinforce curriculum and classroom management.
Teachers, who often use their own money when the school can’t meet their classes’ needs, welcome donations of essential supplies.
“I had a parent who was a doctor, and every time he went to a professional conference, he sent in pens, sticky notes and any other promotional office supplies he was given,” recalls Oona Abrams, an English teacher from Bergen County, NJ. “Another parent upgraded a printer in her home office and donated her old one to my classroom. I used gift cards I got around the holiday season to replenish the ink cartridge.”
While it’s tempting to donate everything at the beginning of the year, hold off. Teachers’ classrooms have their own laws of supply and demand, and kids will use up whatever supplies are on hand. “When winter break is over, kids start asking for more paper or they consistently need something to write with,” says Kevin Lockett, a guest teacher in Akron, OH. Parents helping teachers stock classrooms for the last half of the year are always appreciated.
Not every family can afford even the basic supplies necessary for school, and teachers often struggle to provide for students in need. “Parents ideally would offer to provide supplies for any students in the teacher’s class that cannot afford to purchase their own supplies,” says Mitch Weathers, a science teacher in Redwood City, CA, and creator of Organized Binder. Parents helping teachers ensure that all students have the school supplies they need improves the classroom environment and sets a good example for kids.
Another way you can help is to sign up for the Staples Reward A Classroom program. Enrolled parents associate their Staples Rewards® accounts to a selected educator to earn extra rewards for that particular teacher. Every time you shop, your teacher gets 2% on every purchase and 5% back on Copy & Print Center jobs, and you still get the same rewards you always have. This is an easy way to help teachers keep classrooms stocked.
No matter what your contribution, teachers appreciate parental support. “If parents rally behind what a teacher is doing, it’s a positive,” Weathers says.