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You make the best guacamole for around-the-world day and send the sweetest thank-you gift at the end of the year. But are you doing things that secretly drive your kid’s teacher insane? We talked to a 12-year veteran kindergarten teacher at a Manhattan private school to find out the stuff she really (really) wants parents to stop doing.

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Doing your kid’s homework for him
“We can tell the difference between something made by the parents and something made by the children—call it a trick of the trade. The proudest, most connected kids are the ones who actually did the project themselves, with wonky letters crawling up the sides of the page and half-glued-in photographs with the tops of people’s heads missing. They light up as they share their work, whereas the children who didn’t contribute wear glazed expressions. Advice for parents: If a child asks for help, find ways to be their assistant while allowing them to connect to the task as much as possible.”

Sending an entire restaurant menu for lunch
“And please don’t provide serving instructions and special requests, like telling us to heat or cut up the food. (Just send it in ready to eat.) We also hate it when you send in candy or desserts (often against school policy) in a bento box where the junk food glows like a beckoning light in a dark storm of otherwise healthy options. If you want to treat your kids, write them a quick note—it thrills them, we promise.”

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Ignoring school communications, then complaining that you don’t know what’s going on
“Never realized you were supposed to send in a shoe box for that project? It was in that email, sent last week as well as this week with the subject line: SHOE BOX NEEDED FOR PROJECT BY FRIDAY. It was also mentioned to you, in person, while you were scrolling on your phone during drop-off. It’s extremely frustrating for teachers when parents act like they don’t know what’s going on, when we spend hours each week crafting detailed newsletters, writing reports and sending home information about our curriculum and school happenings.”

Approaching a teacher at drop-off to discuss something important
“It may be the easiest time for you in your action-packed day, but it’s not best for your child’s teacher, who is actively greeting arriving families and tracking attendance, all while gearing up for the day ahead. Additionally, 20 tiny pairs of ears will be perked and ready nearby, observing the interaction and absorbing bits and pieces of the conversation.”

Sending them in with toys
“We know it can be hard to get your child out of the house in the morning. But please resist the urge to let him bring that giant firetruck (and attachable siren...and remote control). Home toys cause classroom issues (difficulty sharing, distraction, getting lost), and it's really not our job to keep an eye on Timmy's micro Lego hat anyway. Need help getting your kid out the door and off to school? Ask your teacher for some ideas!”

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Not sharing important information
“Has your child stopped sleeping or eating? Did they recently develop an allergy to strawberries? Have you or your partner been traveling? Did you move this weekend? Was there a death in the family? Any recent bump in routine can throw your child off, causing behavioral changes at school. It’s important to let your teacher know about anything new at home, so they can best help your child during the day at school.”

Not showing up to parent-teacher conferences
“Twice a year, we are able to sit down formally and discuss your child’s progress. Usually in a short window of time. Showing up late (or not at all) or being on your cell phone for five straight minutes shows teachers you aren’t respecting their professional input. It also sends the message that you aren’t really interested in taking an active role in your child’s education.”

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Dressing them in clothes that can’t get messy
“Every year I remind parents that school is a fun and messy place…and to dress children accordingly. And every year somebody sends a kid in wearing a precious, heirloom-worthy cashmere sweater with instructions to keep it clean. If your child comes home looking like a Jackson Pollock painting, try to see it as a sign that they had a really good day.”

Sending in sick children
“Have you ever seen Outbreak? That’s what it’s like when parents send their feverish children into a kindergarten class. Just…don’t.”

Prying for details about another child
“We know you have concerns about how this other kid’s behavior will affect your kid, but trust that we are on top of it, and please, please, please do not speak poorly of another child or their parents to us. Also, if you happen to see a new adult helping out in the classroom, know that I am happy to introduce you to this ‘new teacher’ but can't tell you who they are there for and why. The bottom line: It's for the benefit of everyone, including your child.”

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Getting defensive if we bring up a tricky subject
"Like behavioral issues or developmental delays. We understand these are your babies, and you may not be ready to hear what we have to say. But know that we have given this a great deal of thought, and we’re letting you know so we can work together to find a solution. Keep the lines of communication open rather than shutting down.” 

Thinking teachers have it so easy
“Summers off, days that end at 3 p.m., getting to play with toys…sounds like a day at the beach, right? Not so much. In reality, being a teacher means being a counselor, nurse, custodian, tightrope walker and game-show host, all while hearing your name repeated on loop. Being a teacher means getting 20 children in and out of snowsuits while four have to use the bathroom, three are toppling over like dominos and one has finally gotten on all her layers, only to discover she forgot to put on her sweater after all. If we do get a few days at the beach each year, trust that they are well-earned and imperative for crucial re-charging.”

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