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I’m a Teacher and Wish More Parents Would Focus on These 5 Skills at Home


5 Components of Raising Kids Teachers Will Enjoy Having in Class

Raising kids is a huge undertaking. So is teaching them. Teachers see every behavior under the sun. Nothing surprises us. And we care about all of our students. However, after teaching for many years and sending my own kid off to school for the first time, I’ve compiled a list of skills I think are important for parents to work on with their kids for school success. And they have nothing to do with reading, writing, or math.

(Note: This isn’t to say I’m going to dislike your child if they don’t have these skills! We’ll work on it together. I’m always happy to meet students where they are.)

Key skills for raising kids that are well-equipped for school:

1. Basic self-care

At my daughter’s kindergarten parent info night, someone asked what skills kids needed to have before starting school. The parents were all expecting things related to reading, writing, counting, and scissor skills. The teacher said kindergartners need to be able to:

  • Put on their own shoes (tied or Velcro does not matter)
  • Put on their own coats
  • Use the bathroom independently.

That’s it!

Teachers simply don’t have time to attend to the individual needs of 30 students all day long. There would be no time to teach! Raising kids who can confidently handle their own bathroom business and open their own Gogurt allows teachers to focus on actually teaching.

* Obviously, there are exceptions and some children will need more help with self-care skills. However, working with your child to help them be as independent as possible benefits everyone.

2. Mindfulness

Mindfulness means being able to keep your cool in high-stress situations. School is frequently full of high-stress situations. Teach your kids some basic mindfulness strategies such as how to listen to their bodies to notice they’re getting stressed, and how to take deep, restorative breaths to calm down. Encourage kids to take breaks when they’re getting frustrated and to communicate when they need help. Students who are able to self-regulate instead of adding to (or inciting) classroom chaos are a breath of fresh air to those around them.

3. Empathy

Empathy can be taught, modeled, and practiced from a young age. Teach your kids to think about how others are feeling. Then work on helping them consider how their behaviors make other people feel. Model empathy yourself. Show empathy for the driver who cut you off in traffic instead of honking and cursing. “He’s in a big hurry. He must have something very important to get to. That must be stressful for him to be in such a rush.” Daniel Tiger can help you with this. Empathetic students understand other people have hard days, that not everything revolves around them, and that their actions can help or hurt their friends. It makes for a more peaceful classroom.

4. Resilience

Yes, it’s okay to cry, but it’s also okay to get back up again. You can be disappointed when you fail a test, but you can also try harder on the next test. You can ask for help from the teacher or the peer tutoring center. So many students give up when they don’t succeed right away. Encourage your kids to be resilient, have a growth mindset instead of a fixed one, and to focus on the process of hard work instead of just the results. This will help them more in the long run than rewarding them only when they get an A or land first place. And it will save the teacher from dealing with constant meltdowns from students who haven’t developed resiliency.

5. Teamwork

Any activity your child can participate in that involves them working with others as part of a team will benefit them. For a team to really succeed, all players need to work together. It isn’t necessary to force team sports on your kid, especially if they’re introverted or sensitive, but find something that your child is passionate about. Musical groups, plays, martial arts, art classes, chess clubs, etc. all have opportunities to teach your child the value of working together. There will come a time at school when your kid is paired with someone they don’t mesh with. If your child is skilled at being a team player, they’ll work it out.

Classrooms are communities and teachers can’t balance it all on their own. If a student comes to class equipped with self-care, mindfulness, empathy, reliance, and the ability to work well on a team, the classroom will be a more harmonious community. This allows the teacher more time, peace, and calmness to teach the academic skills.

Join us in the Empowered Teachers community for more discussions like this.

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5 Components of Raising Kids Teachers Will Enjoy Having in Class

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Laura Wheatman Hill

Laura Wheatman Hill lives in Portland, Oregon with her two children and teaches English and drama when not living in an apocalyptic dystopia..You can find her at her website and on Twitter.

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