a woman sits at a small table with young children doing a puzzle in a classroom

Teaching can be a rough job. And more than likely, you’ve heard the complaints: long hours, poor pay, and no respect. But you can help make it better. While you might not be able to give your child’s teacher a raise or smaller class sizes, the following are some ways you can support them.

1. Donate supplies. More often than not, teachers purchase their own supplies. This includes dry erase markers, tissues, disinfecting wipes, and printer paper. But they also buy supplies for the students who don’t have their own. If you have a list of supplies, buy them.  If you can, buy extra. And if you’re feeling really generous, ask your teacher what he or she needs in the middle of the year because most of those supplies are dwindling by January.

2. Come to parent-teacher conferences. In elementary school, it seems like most parents come to back-to-school night and parent-teacher conferences, but their presence shrinks once their student gets to high school. But just because your child is in high school doesn’t mean they don’t still need you to be part of their education. Your involvement is the key to their success, and often that involvement includes meeting with their teachers.

3. Check your student’s grades. Most schools have an online grading platform like PowerSchool or Gradelink. Look regularly so there aren’t any surprises and reach out if you have any concerns. Don’t wait until the end of the year to reach out.

4. Encourage your children to discuss problems directly with the teacher, especially if they are in high school. After a certain point, you shouldn’t be the one asking the teacher what Sally can do to raise her grade or asking if John can get some extra help because he’s struggling.  If they’re in high school, that responsibility should start falling on them. This is the time to learn independence and self-advocacy.

5. Be positive about the subjects they take. If you keep telling your child that English is stupid, how do you think they will act in that class? Even if they don’t act like it, your opinion matters to them, so be encouraging and positive about every subject.

6. Be interested in what your child is learning.  Even if you aren’t interested in the subject, listen carefully anyway. Have meaningful discussions over what they’re learning in class, help them with their homework, and encourage them to ask questions.  If your child sees you engaged in learning, they’re probably going to be engaged too. 

7. Send a thank you card or an email when a teacher makes a difference. Teachers usually only hear complaints, and this can lead to feeling unappreciated. Sometimes a kind word can make all the difference.

8. Listen to the teacher’s side of the story. Sure, there are some teachers who aren’t perfect. But sometimes your kid isn’t telling the whole truth. Be open and listen. 

9. Put their education first. Sports, theater, and art can have such a positive impact on your child’s life, but they shouldn’t be prioritized over your child’s education. When you send an email asking a teacher for extra credit so your kids can go to band camp, you’re sending a message that their education isn’t what’s important.

10. Respect their time. Teachers have families and lives outside of their jobs too, so no, they might not meet with you at 8:00 pm on a Friday. Be realistic with your expectations.