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What teachers wish every parent knew

As parents we bought all the back to school supplies and made sure our kids had some new clothes to wear to class. But Northern Michigan teachers say they are still some things that parents can provide to students in order for them to show up to class ready to learn and to succeed.

I sat down with an elementary, middle and high school teacher at Glen Lake Schools and asked them what do they wish every parent knew, and did, in order to make their kids time in the classroom as productive as possible.

Lisa Migazzi teaches 3rd graders. Her day is spent helping younger students master the basics of math, reading, and the process of education. Her third grade classroom has everything a student needs to succeed, a dedicated teacher, and about all the supplies you can imagine. The key ingredient though is a student who is ready to learn with nothing holding them back. She says "from the moment they walk in the room, if they are ready to learn you know all of those things are being met. If they aren't getting those things, they start the day off with those struggles as well."

Avoiding those struggles is as much dependent on her and is it what takes place when kids aren’t in her classroom. "Making sure that parents are doing their job at home definitely helps us do our job at school" says Lisa.

As parents, even if we never step foot in the classroom, teachers say we play a pivotal role in how well our kids do in school. In elementary school, it's the basics.

Lisa says "there are a few things that parents can do to begin with, just taking care of their basic needs, making sure they are dressed for school, well rested, that they have had breakfast before they come to school." She goes on to say that “helping them get into a routine before school so the students know what to expect about their day, setting the tone, giving them that extra hug before they step out the door always helps and lastly helping them to read so that they feel comfortable and confident when they go to school."

Down the hallway in the middle school, there are different challenges for parents and teachers. As a middle school teacher, Lisa Nadlicki has spent decades in front of young teenagers. She sees the emotional rollercoaster they are on and just how a big factor it can have on our kid’s abilities to focus in the classroom. Lisa says "I feel like these kids quite often come in a little bit different every day."

She says parents can step in and help with a simple question. Lisa says "I think it’s really important that we ask our children as parents how are you doing how are things going?'”

She believes that at this age students are often impacted in the classroom by emotional tugs outside of it. Lisa says "if a student is coming to school and they have a lot on their mind and that hasn't been asked that can make a big difference."

Mrs. Nadlicki says parents at this age should be asking, often, how are kids are doing? Help them navigate all that's changing in their world. As for the practical things parents can do there is some overlap with those elementary students. Lisa says "the first thing that comes to mind are those common sense things that we do have such as making sure you had something to eat in the morning, making sure have had a good night’s sleep and with that I would mention limiting the screen time. It's pretty noticeable kids that come in who haven't had a good night’s sleep and on top of that have been on some kind of a device for hours on end so that clearly makes a difference."

When our middle school students come home from school give them a place where they can continue their learning. Lisa says "I think having a good work space at home where you can go and count on being able to focus and get your school work done."

In high school students of a different age have some different needs. Anna Wassa teaches high school language arts. She stands in front of a classroom everyday filled with young people crossing over in adulthood. She says that transition is one of the presents opportunities and challenges for everyone involved. Anna says "I do think parents should be involved at the high school level but really with an eye on how can I show confidence in my student that they can be independent on their own."

Kids have more responsibilities in high school, bigger projects, longer assignments, and more of an opportunity to succeed or fail on their own. As a teacher, Anna says it's important that parent's give them that opportunity.

Anna says "I think it's a tough balance to strike of being encouraging and interested but overdoing it when the student says you don't trust me to do this on my own mom or dad."

She says our kids at this age appreciate realness and that their needs to be successful in the classroom range from the basics that have held true at any age to the skills that will serve them well long after they graduate.

Anna says "getting enough rest is always first on the list. I think modeling behavior of asking questions and being curious is another great thing. Make sure they aren't hungry when they come to school, I see a lot of kids that are hungry, and teaching each other how to be good friends."

While each of these teachers had some individual advice based on the age of the students, they all stressed that being involved, having our kids know how important their education is, and showing them through our actions that we value their time in the classroom can go a long way towards their success as students.

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