“How do I help thee? Let me count the ways . . .” Wait, it doesn’t go like that, huh? Darn.
If that age-old line from Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s “Sonnet 43” had anything to do with helping teachers, it would be one I’m sure many teachers would post in their classroom in bright red letters for everyone to see. But since they can’t, I thought I’d share a crowd-sourced list of ways you can help your child’s teacher — and not seem like a suck-up. I polled a bunch of my girlfriends (some of whom are former teachers themselves) and many moms in the work room at my son’s school, so you can rest assured these are tried-and-true tips from more than just me.
Ways to Help Your Child’s Teacher
Volunteer at school. Volunteering at your child’s school is a great way to help your child’s teacher! Whether physically working in the work room making copies, laminating projects, or cutting out shapes on the die cut machine, these tasks give time back to your child’s teacher and allow him or her to focus more on your child versus those tasks they have to do before or after school — or even on the weekends.
Of course, not everyone can physically be at a school working in a work room during the hours of 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. If that’s not you, ask your teacher to send home some projects for you to do from home (e.g. cutting out things that have been laminated, making paper bag vests for the school’s Thanksgiving performance).
Other things you can do to help include being a volunteer reader at school (just ensure you follow your school or district’s background check and/or volunteer policy); offering to take over their lunch duty for the day; or even stuffing take-home folders with Scholastic book flyers on your lunch break.
Regardless of how or when you help, your child’s teacher will appreciate it.
Read the emails. I know we all get a million emails in our inbox a day, but reading the ones from your child’s teacher, the room parent(s), and/or the PTA (and responding, if necessary) are so helpful to them. Not only are you kept in the loop, but you can send any necessary items needed (e.g. closed-toe shoes for P.E. class on Wednesday) to school with your child and can have open communication with the teacher, room parent(s) and PTA representatives. It’s always obvious when parents read the emails — or don’t.
Assist the room parent(s). Please know that anything coming from the room parent(s) are usually tasks delegated by your child’s teacher. View the room parents as the helping hand extension of your child’s teacher, and assist them if and when you can. For example, if the room parent(s) send out a sign-up list of items needed for the class Thanksgiving feast, sign up to bring something! I know it’s just one more thing to add to your grocery list, but the teacher will be so thankful they didn’t have to purchase that can of pumpkin pie filling or bag of cheese cubes on their own time and with their own money.
Bring a cup of coffee or lunch. If you’re planning to come to school to have lunch with your child, ask your child’s teacher if you can bring them lunch, too. Or, if it’s a cold day and you’re waiting in the car line for your child, grab a cup of coffee on your way to school and hand it to them when they open the car door to put your child in the car. You could also bring a caffeinated beverage to the teacher the day after Halloween, or the first day back from Thanksgiving or winter break. Little gestures like that go a long way with teachers! (And, many schools send out a “Teacher’s Favorite Things” list at the beginning of the school year, so their coffee order might already be listed and it can be a true surprise!)
Send classroom items to school with your child. Whether a bottle of hand sanitizer (it is cold and flu season, after all!), Expo markers, or even a box of tissues, your child’s teacher will love receiving needed classroom items and appreciate not having to spend their own money on them. I typically add one or two items a month onto my grocery list and work it into our grocery budget, and then either send it to school with my son or bring it up myself.
Purchase items from their Amazon Wish List. Technology makes it so easy to assist our teachers these days! Many schools and teachers have an Amazon Wish List full of items they need for the classroom, from books to beanbag chairs to a pencil sharpener. If your child’s teacher has a wish list, purchase something from it! The items are sent straight to their home (with the address protected for privacy, much like an online wedding or baby registry) with a small note from you. Your gesture and thoughtfulness will mean the world to them.
Work with your child at home. Go over the spelling words, do the requested 15 minutes of reading with your child, and complete the math homework. It takes the stress off your child’s teacher having to ask that it be done multiple times, and it makes their job easier in the classroom.
Give the gift of time. I know we already talked about volunteer opportunities for school-related items, but this is something you can do for them on a personal level. Our son’s elementary school has an event December in which parents can volunteer to wrap teachers’ holiday gifts for them! Teachers bring up their gifts, and parents volunteer at school to wrap the gifts — giving of their time to give that time back to teachers. I think that’s such a neat event! Even if your school doesn’t have that event, ask a few parents to do it with you for your child’s teacher.
If your teacher is expecting a baby or adopting, or getting married, offer to throw them a small class shower. It doesn’t have to be anything extensive, but you could purchase one gift from the class and bring in a few refreshments to celebrate them.
The bottom line: Teachers are people, too. I try to follow the golden rule when thinking about ways to help my children’s teachers. Many worry about looking like a suck-up or like they’re trying to do things to get something in return. But the way I see it is this: If you’re genuine in your intention to help your child’s teacher, that honesty and genuineness will shine through.
What are ways do you like to help your child’s teacher? Share in the comments!