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5 Things Your Kid's Teacher Needs from You

3. Communication

You may think it's enough to just sign off on permission slips and report cards, but communication about your kid's health, happiness, and progress needs to flow both ways. Most teachers are shocked at how little parents share about what's happening at home. "If there's an illness or a crisis going on, your child's teacher needs to know about it because it may explain why your child isn't behaving well or performing academically," says McDonough. But don't wait for a crisis to connect with your kid's teacher; you can share the positive developments, too, such as how well he's doing with his piano lessons or how he's taken to reading the Harry Potter series. "The more you can paint a true and full picture of who your child is, the more it helps the teacher," McDonough says. And keeping connected doesn't mean you have to schedule a conference or a special phone call. "I really love e-mail. It's a great way to bridge home and school," says Martin. "I'll regularly e-mail parents just to share some of our classroom experiences."

4. Appreciation

"Kids can't show gratitude toward their teacher every day, so it's important for parents to do it," McDonough says. "Teaching is a very high-energy job, and it's not given as much value in society as it deserves." But that doesn't mean you have to buy extravagant gifts. "Whether a parent leaves a muffin, a flower, or a note on my desk, it makes my day," says Martin. At the end of every school year, Merritt Rowe, 39, a Nashville mother of three, writes a long note thanking her kids' teachers for all they did. "I know it means a lot to the teacher," she says. "And I want them to know how thankful I am for what they did with my child all year."

5. Respect

Teachers' number one request of 21st-century parents: Get off your cell phone to say hello to the teacher when you pick up your kid. "Take 30 seconds and give full attention to the person who spends eight hours a day with your kid," says Maloni. "Otherwise, you're dissing the teacher!" Another frequent parental faux pas? Dropping your kid off at school late. "You need to get your child to school on time," says Jo Ann Brooks, a preschool teacher in Richmond, VA. "Getting to school late just throws off the morning activities." You don't want your kid and her tardiness to be the reason why everyone else is running behind. Likewise, be sure to return forms like permission slips within 24 to 48 hours of receiving them; your child may forget about them, so check her backpack daily.

If you do make a mistake and forget to sign off on that report card, don't pile on the justifications or fibs, says McDonough. Just apologize and move on. "Teachers hear excuses from kids all day long," she says. "They don't need to hear them from parents, too."

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