“There is no program or policy that can substitute for a mother or father who will attend . . . parent-teacher conferences or help with the homework or turn off the TV, put away the video games, or read to their child. Responsibility for our children's education must begin at home."
These were the words of President Barack Obama as he addressed a joint session of Congress in February. He also encouraged all parents to attend school events and volunteer at school.
President Obama says parents must take an active role in their children’s education. Partnering with teachers is a great way to stay involved in the process.
This week is national PTA Teacher Appreciation Week and it’s the perfect time to thank your favorite educator. Maybe you had an amazing teacher you’d like to contact. Perhaps your child is blessed to be in the classroom of a gifted educator. Or maybe you know someone who is considering a career in education. Take the time this week to recognize their efforts.
Letters and notes are great ways to let teachers know they’r valued. To show appreciation for teachers, my husband and I encouraged our children to make gifts, such as ornaments or cookies. Purchasing gifts is often not an option for lower income students and we wanted everyone to be on a level playing field. Besides, a hand-made present is much more personal.
As a parent, I always made time to thank my children’s teachers. I’d also compliment them on creative assignments or original approaches to teaching. To this day, I still see my children’s former teachers. I like to update them on my adult children’s lives and thank them for the part they played in shaping my children into the happy and successful people they are today.
Recently, I ran into my son's former kindergarten teacher and school librarian at a local film festival. They were pleased when I told them my son was volunteering at the local non-profit movie theater and had joined their board of directors. Maybe his love of films began when he was a kindergartener under their guidance!
School involvement is a critical element of academic success. Work to maintain good communication with your child’s teachers. As President Obama recommends, make time to attend open houses, parent conferences and parent nights. Write notes, phone, or email your children’s teachers.
Perhaps most importantly, strive to be “on the same page” and partner with teachers. No one benefits when a parent argues with teachers. Keep your relationship professional and cordial. Remember you’re a team and are both critical to your child’s success.
ACT offers information to help parents and schools work together on college and career readiness. ACT Parent (www.act.org/path/parent/news) is a free monthly column full of tips and techniques to help your student succeed. Visit our test page (www.act.org/path/parent/tests/index.html) to learn more about assessments that will aid your child when choosing courses and selecting careers. You and your students can also read our student blogs (www.actstudent.org/blog) to learn what others are saying.
During the average week, teachers spend more time with students than we parents do. They shape and challenge our children. They inspire and educate the next generation. Honoring their dedication and commitment during this week is a good way to give back. But why limit your gratitude to just one week? Consider this a beginning. A quick note, a simple email, a phone call . . . all these gestures mean a lot. And if you’re the only school family expressing your thanks, your words have an even greater impact. Take a moment once in a while to say a simple “thank you.”
For more information about National PTA Teacher Appreciation Week and for creative ideas and resources, please visit www.pta.org/teachers.
Rose Rennekamp is the vice president of communications for ACT. She is a mom and has a master’s of education in guidance and counseling. For more college and career-planning information, visit www.act.org. Have a topic you want covered in a future column? Send a letter to this newspaper or e-mail Rose at