Once a year — sometimes twice — moms and dads take a seat in their child's way-too-tiny desks for parent-teacher conferences. It's a chance for parents to get to know their child's teacher and, more importantly, learn how their child operates in the classroom. While the teachers are happy to talk about your child's academic performance, there is more to school than grades. Unfortunately, a 10-minute time slot doesn't provide much time to discuss things like behavioral development and building confidence. And that's what educator and journalist Jessica Lahey thinks you need to know. Her recent New York Times article outlines some basics that all parents should know about their kids.
Here, we share the secrets that Lahey and other teacher want to tell you but don't always have the time to do so.
- Your kids can do much more than you think. Your little one doesn't need you to tie their shoes, zip their jacket, or a million other things. They simply want you to do it. Start teaching your child how to tackle these tasks so next time they ask for help, you can sit back and watch them do it themselves.
- It's not healthy to give your child constant feedback. You may think praising every picture is building your child's confidence, but it could actually hurt them in the long run. Children need to be able to critique their own work because, according to Lahey, "as they grow up and face hardship, they need to be able to look to themselves for strength and approval." She suggests asking your children what they think of their work next time they come to you for approval.
- We promise not to believe everything your child says happens at home if you promise not to believe everything your child says happens in our classrooms. Little kids have a knack for telling
little white lies. Make sure to take everything they say with a grain of salt, and look for some telltale signs that they're bending the truth.
- Your children learn and act according to what you do. You are your child's first — and favorite — teacher. But you can't just tell them that it's rude to talk when someone is speaking or that learning is fun. You have to show them! Make sure you exhibit all the positive behaviors that you want your child to inherit.
- Teach your children that mistakes aren't signs of weakness but a vital part of growth and learning. Before your child could walk, they had to fall down a few times. So don't let them beat themselves up over an incorrect math problem or a misspelled word. Let them know that everyone makes mistakes and that, in the end, doing so will help them succeed. Also emphasize the importance of effort rather than getting it right the first time.