A new school year is around the corner. Traditionally, children and their parents give teachers gifts for Christmas or teacher appreciation day. But, I am going to suggest a radical new approach to giving gifts for teachers.
Why not start the year off with the best gifts of all, not only for your child’s teacher, but for your child as well?
1) Give your teacher the gift of prayer.
I was a teacher for 24 years. I love children and the art of teaching, but there was a time when I couldn’t put in another year. Some say “those who can’t, teach.” I might suggest that whoever coined this phrase be required to spend one year teaching in a public school today. Our educators deal with constant meetings and piles of paperwork which keep them from constructing and executing valuable lessons. There is the pressure of classroom and school performance. One year, ¼ of the children in my class left and new children came in, but I was responsible for the progress of all of the children for the entire year. As parents are home in the evening with their families, they need to realize that teachers are often up until 11:00 grading papers and writing comments on report cards. So, teachers need prayer for endurance, strength, and wisdom.
2) Give your teacher the gift of a well rested child who has had a nutritious breakfast.
There is clear research to show that these two habits relate closely to children’s learning potential. The Sleep Foundation offers helpful wisdom on how many hours of sleep your child requires each night. A healthy breakfast does not mean a pop tart or a sugar coated cereal. Children need a well rounded meal with protein, a starch, fruit, and milk. Consider this meal your child’s most important meal of the day.
3) Give your teacher the gift of support.
When you have a concern, talk to the teacher first. This is biblical. Hear his/her side of the concern before going to the principal. Yes, teachers make mistakes, but sometimes the child’s report of an incident is not always 100% accurate. Keep these incidents to yourself. Telling them to other parents often just creates misunderstandings, gossip, and unneeded drama.
4) Give your teacher the gift of setting limits for your child at home.
When a child comes from a home with clear rules and required manners that are consistently enforced, they understand limits. Teachers can then teach rather than do the work of the parents.
5) Give your teacher the gift of keeping your child home from school when he/she is ill.
Working parents today are under great pressure from their employers to adhere to the company sick leave policy. But, when sick children are sent to school there is a chain effect. One child spreads the illness to other children and often, to the teacher. Then other parents face the same dilemma of having a sick child and days of classroom learning are lost.
6) Give your teacher the gift of a child who can pay attention in class.
According to a NY Times article, Michael Rich, an associate professor at Harvard Medical School and executive director of the Center on Media and Child Health in Boston reports that when using technology, children’s brains “are rewarded not for staying on task but for jumping to the next thing. The worry is we’re raising a generation of kids in front of screens whose brains are going to be wired differently.” The DANA Foundation reports that Jordan Grafman, chief of cognitive neuroscience at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke says “In general, technology can be good [for children’s cognitive development] if it is used judiciously,” Grafman said. “But if it is used in a non-judicious fashion, it will shape the brain in what I think will actually be a negative way.” The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends “that parents establish ‘screen-free’ zones at home by making sure there are no televisions, computers or video games in children’s bedrooms, and by turning off the TV during dinner. Children and teens should engage with entertainment media for no more than one or two hours per day, and that should be high-quality content. It is important for kids to spend time on outdoor play, reading, hobbies, and using their imaginations in free play.”
7) Give your teacher the gift of valuing education.
Tell your child that doing well in school is his/her job. Attend parent conferences and ask how you can support your child at home. Be a life long learner yourself so you are a role model to your own child. Read to or with your child every day.
As a teacher I’ve received coffee mugs and hand made crafts. But, one of the best gifts I was given was a child who was healthy, eager, and ready to learn. May God bless our teachers as they return to school this year.
Kathy Milans is the lead member of the Soul Care Collective Steering Committee.