As parents, we want the best for our children, and we are always very protective of them, striving to give them the very best in life. Teachers also want this for their students. There are times when parents can become too involved in their child's day-to-day life, and times when they need to.
From a teacher's perspective, here are five legit reasons to email your child's teacher, and five that you need to rethink prior to sending.
10 Email - If your child is going through something important
As a teacher, you are sometimes left wondering why a child seems particularly sullen one day, or even the opposite, very happy and excited. If you know that your child doesn't tend to share news with others, and there is something important happening in their lives that their teacher should be aware of, send the teacher a quick email to let them know.
Perhaps your child has a big sporting event coming up that is happening outside of school that they are working hard towards. Perhaps your child is going through a shift in their sleeping routines, which is causing them to be more tired than usual. Let the teacher know, so they understand the reasons behind any change in behaviour and can offer support and encouragement as well.
9 Email - If you will be away and someone else is looking after your child
Now, this is not to say that you should be emailing your child's teacher every time there is a change in dismissal plans - this is incredibly frustrating for teachers, who are busy teaching during the day and don't have time to be checking emails for sudden dismissal changes - call the school office for those changes. But more, if you are going to be away for an extended period of time and there is someone else caring for your child, it would be good to let their teacher know.
Sometimes these changes can affect how your child behaves at school, and if they are still quite young, it can cause some stress and upset for the child. Giving the teacher the heads up will allow them to keep an extra close eye on your little one and provide a little extra TLC throughout the day.
8 Email - Family situations that could affect your child's emotional state
This is a very important reason to email your child's teacher. If your family is going through some difficult times, and your child will be affected by it, then letting their teacher know is crucial. Again, children don't always share what is going on in their lives, so you need to be the one to explain things to the teacher.
If you are going through a separation or divorce, or you have recently lost a family member, then your child will most likely be dealing with a wide range of emotions. Getting support from their teacher throughout the day (even just in the form of an extra hug or a kind word) can go a long way in helping them navigate the situation.
7 Email - If your child is dealing with difficult social situations and/or bullying
This point requires careful thought and consideration before deciding to email your child's teacher. Too often as parents, we jump in and panic when our child comes home and says that so-and-so was being mean to them, or that they played all by themselves at recess. This can be heartbreaking to hear, but it is very common and completely normal. It is all part of their learning, as they build their social skills and learn how to navigate friendships.
The occasional day when someone was mean to your child does not warrant an email to the teacher. However, if it is becoming a regular occurrence or it is the same child picking on your child again and again, then it's time to look into what is going on at school. An email to the teacher may shed some light on the social situations happening at school, and if your child is regularly playing by themselves at school and seems lonely, then the teacher can keep an eye on things and help them to join in with some other friends.
6 Email - To say something positive to the teacher!
This is sometimes the most over-looked reason to email your child's teacher. Let them know they're doing a great job, or say thank you for something they've done, or just for being your child's teacher. Teaching can often be a rather thankless job, and many teachers pour their hearts into their work, and care for their students like their own children. This is often done without any expectation of thanks, but because they genuinely care and are passionate about helping their students.
Throughout my years of teaching, I've saved the emails where the parents took time out of their day to thank me for teaching their child. Those emails mean the absolute world to me. It lets us know that our efforts don't go unnoticed, that our students are happy in our class, and that we are appreciated for what we do. If your child's teacher is doing a great job, let them know! It will mean so much to them.
5 RETHINK: Emailing to complain about a mark your child received
The helicopter parenting MUST END! We must stop going to bat for our children over every poor mark they receive. There is most likely a very valid reason for the mark given, and your best course of action would be to talk to your child about their mark, not their teacher. Let it be a learning opportunity for them, and trust that with increased effort next time, their marks will improve.
Despite some negative beliefs, teachers put a lot of thought and energy into their program, their assessment pieces, and their evaluations of each student. Have faith that your child's teacher has reasons for the mark they gave, and trust that they know your child in the classroom better than you do. Yes, that can be a hard pill to swallow, but how your child behaves at home is completely different than how they behave at school. I promise.
4 RETHINK: Emailing to argue why your child didn't make the team/get a role in the school play
This is another form of helicopter parenting that drives teachers batty. My fellow colleague shared the story of how one father phoned her at her home on a Friday evening to ask why his daughter hadn't made the basketball team and what they could do to ensure she made the team next year...my colleague wasn't even the basketball coach!
Your child will not be picked for everything in life; they might not make the sports team, and they might not be chosen for a role in the school play. Let them get used to it, let them learn from the experience of not being chosen, and help them to work hard on their skills so that they might get chosen the next time. But whatever you do, do not teach your children that if they don't get what they want, then they can stomp their feet and cry, and mommy or daddy will step in and make it better. You're only setting them up for failure later in life.
3 RETHINK: Emailing to ask why the teacher has been absent
This shouldn't even be an issue, but unfortunately it is. Some parents seem to be of the opinion that they have a right to know where their child's teacher is, why they've been absent, and when they will be returning to school. They don't. Plain and simple.
Although it can be disconcerting for your child to have a substitute teacher in for a day, or even a few, under no circumstances are parents entitled to inquire about the teacher's absence. Teachers are people too, and personal situations arise in their lives just like everyone else. If you are tempted to email your child's teacher to find out when they will be back, rethink that one.
2 RETHINK: Emailing to lecture the teacher on how to teach your child
This one could, quite possibly, be the most frustrating of them all. Emails where the parent proceeds to lecture me on how to teach their child, without having any teaching experience themselves, any context as to why I'm teaching the way I am, or any idea of their own child's real performance in class. (As I mentioned, kids behave differently at home than at school.)
There are so many factors that go into every single decision a teacher makes, and unless you are in that classroom on a regular basis, you don't really have an understanding of what goals your child's teacher is aiming for. If there are constant problems with the program and what the teacher is doing, then request a meeting so you can sit down and talk face-to-face. Don't lash out in an email without knowing all the facts or giving the teacher the benefit of the doubt.
1 RETHINK: Emailing to ask the teacher to parent your child
While we love and care for our students like they were our own, we are not their parent. Stop sending emails asking the teacher to find your child's sweater, or telling the teacher to ask your child if they will want cheese on their sandwich after school (true story). Stop sending emails asking how your child's day is going or whether they are enjoying their lunch since it was a different lunch. Stop asking us to help with parenting your child - asking us to talk to your kid about going bed earlier, or eating their dinner, or being nicer to his siblings (yes, these examples come from real emails). Just stop. Not our responsibility and not part of our job description, those fall under the parenting category.
Please parents, just trust that we want the best for all of our students, including your child. Trust that we are doing the best we possibly can, and that there has been considerable thought put into our decisions. Let us do our job as teachers, and please, do your job as parents.