This is an open letter to those teachers who have lost sight of what they are doing and are on the attack on us parents.
We aren’t all bad parents so please stop treating us like we are. You already get the best of our children. Those 30 hours a week during the day to see them at their best. You already get to see them grow, learn and develop. We get a snippet of the time you have with them and when they are home, they are tired and hungry and have anxieties to deal with regarding friendships.
You spring last minute things on us constantly, £1 for this, dress down day for that, bring a board game in, wear sports gear, buy a red t-shirt. This list is endless. At this time of year, when most families are full of anxiety about how they can afford Christmas, some like me full of sadness that when the children go do their dad, I am all alone because I don’t have a family. This is the time of year you ask for even more from us. Nativity plays, Christmas carols, Christmas fayres, visit from santa, Christmas jumper day…in NOVEMBER!, hamper donations (not really a donation as you chase for it constantly) school trips. If we manage to remember all this thanks to a class group chat which often results in half of us racing to a supermarket on the morning to buy the latest school demand…er I mean donation, it’s still not good enough.
This is the time of year when we are most likely to face redundancy, yet we are full of guilt and shame because we cant take time off work to attend the Wednesday reading group, the monthly coffee morning and the maths challenge. This is the time of year when some of us have to get an additional job to pay for the increase in bills our family face, yet you then impose rules such as if the children haven’t read 5 nights a week they cant go on a school trip.
I am a single mum, juggling 3 jobs. My children of course are the MOST important people in my life and come first, but my level of love for them or my capability of being a parent shouldn’t be measured on if I’ve written in their reading book every single night. When I have my children and we are free from the stresses of life I want to spend time with them. I want to take them to a show ive finally managed to book, I want to play board games with them, I want to paint with them or go on walks. This is quality time with them where they have a human connection. I dont feel it’s good parenting to be battling with them on a Thursday where they are exhausted and they’ve been pushed over in the playground and are still upset, yet I’m still forcing them to read a book they don’t want to read. My youngest is only 5! She’s an emotional wreck when she gets home and often looks like she has PTSD from experiencing lunch time in a big school with a huge playground. Cut her some slack and trust my judgement.
You say 10 minutes of reading a night will make all the difference, yet seem to dismiss the hour we could read on one night when they are fresh faced and are engaged in a book, instead of forcing this 10 minutes where they aren’t taking anything in. You have our children for 30 uninterrupted hours a week. Not reaching the target occasionally of 50 stressful minutes split across the week, is not as life threatening as you make out.
My job as a parent is of course to educate alongside the school. But its also to make sure they are happy, well rounded and able to express themselves in ways the education system simply no longer allows. Its also my job to teach them about life, why people work, current affairs, how to be kind and decent human beings. But most importantly it’s my job to make sure they feel loved, secure and cared for. So if my child is unwell, tired or feeling vulnerable, my judgement of how I deal with this situation is my judgement as a parent. No teacher is entitled to judge me on how I parent, you are not their parents.
So in conclusion, there will be weeks where the children wont have read every night, where they have had to come to work with me, where I have kept them off school because they are ill. Take your crappy notes, threatening letters and stickers and place them somewhere else. Families are under a lot of pressure as it is, without the judgement of teachers who seem to forget what its like to be a human and survive. Trust that I know my children more than anyone else in the world and I am doing my best. They are loved and cared for and that should be enough for you. Your added stress is often the straw that broke the camel’s back and brings me to tears when the children are asleep. Finally please stop treating us parents as the enemy. Teaching is your job, parenting is our life. You do not care for our children more than we do.