Every year for 15 years I have sent home the same assignment on the first day of school. I send a letter home asking parents to tell me about their child in a million words or less. I go on to explain that I want to learn the child’s hopes, dreams, fears, challenges, and jokingly ask parents to limit it to less than a million words since we all know we could talk forever about our children. I go on to say I’m not grading these, not looking at handwriting or grammar, and I don’t care if they send them back with their child, email them, drop them off at the office, etc.
“This week I had two students lose their mother unexpectedly,” she wrote. “[They are] brother and sister, I taught one last year and one this year. As I have done before, I immediately went to my folders to pull the letters that mom sent for her children. It’s a beautiful gift that I feel I can give students to get a glimpse into how much a parent loved and adored them.”
After taking out the letters for her two grieving students, Amie realized that her filing cabinet looked particularly light this year and decided to see how many parents actually turned in their assignments. “That first year I had 98 percent of the parents send back some type of letter on their child,” she said. “This year, [it was] 22 percent. That’s a lot of opportunities lost for me to get to know students. Sadly, more parents have access to an electronic device that makes this task even easier and less time-consuming.”
Amie then made a point for teachers to pick up on potential threats if their parents don’t even notice them:
“With all of our other responsibilities in our profession, how are we supposed to get to know students so that we can identify the ones with the mentality and disposition to become a school shooter if parents are checking out of the academic process?”
The teacher signed off by urging parents to keep a constant eye on their kids so they can intervene before any emotional issues spiral out of control:
Don’t wait until your child is the school shooter to let us know your child is struggling mentally. Don’t wait until your child is ineligible for sports or the day before report cards to check grades and question the teacher on why your child is failing.
Be a parent. Be involved in your child’s life so that you can help them through the issues with friends, the possible suicidal thoughts, and problems academically. I promise you, if parents spent more time with their children and got involved in their lives, we would see drastic improvements in our schools and our society.
As parents, our job is to grow the most amazing humans possible. It’s the most important job in the world. The education and emotional stability a parent provides is priceless.