Back to school season is stressful. It’s especially stressful for parents who are dropping their kids off for a full day of school for the first time, like incoming kindergarteners. But parents can often let their fear and anxiety turn them into steamrollers and, maybe unwittingly, parents can often get started on a bad foot with their kid’s new teachers. For parents who don’t want to alienate the teacher first thing, we reached out to seven educators about the frustrations they consistently encounter during back to school season. So, if you want to avoid being “that parent” — the one who is spoken about in teacher’s lounges and holiday parties — you’d do best to keep these things in mind.
They Make Unreasonable Requests
The “make an exception for my kid” parent is very annoying. I do understand that your child is special and unique but so is every other child. I can’t make special exceptions for one child and not another. I had a parent request on the first day of school that I allow their child to snack whenever they would like. The school has policies in place about snacks and I wasn’t able to accommodate that without a legitimate reason — like if the child child is diabetic etc and needs to eat at certain times.
The helicopter parent is the worst on the first day of kindergarten, also. I understand that it is a huge milestone for both the child and the parent but a long drawn out good-bye montage isn’t necessary and makes the process even more painful. I had one parent who just couldn’t leave and ended up coming to class the first few days which made the separation day a nightmare. It’s easier to just rip off the band-aid in this situation. Sometimes you do get parents of older kids who can’t seem to leave as well but this is more rare. — Cindy, 43, Canada
They Forget That We Aren’t Back To School Yet.
I won’t ever say that parents are annoying, but I will say sometimes parents forget that teachers are on summer break as well. We get advanced requests for supply list, and we get advanced requests for curriculum information. And the worst thing is when parents decide to “Meet the Teacher” during my planning days before school actually starts. Normally, I’m cleaning my classroom and I’m not dressed appropriately. It’s embarrassing meeting parents under those circumstances. — Mo, 39, Arkansas
They Try To Strong Arm Me
The number one annoying thing fathers do before the school year starts happens during the meet and greet/open house. I often get a strong father figure going, “He’s going to do really well this year.” Or, “I’ve got my eye on him.” This sets me, the teacher, as the antagonist against their kid and an extension of the father’s authority over the child. This isn’t the case. Nor is it the best approach.
Rather, the parent should view the open house as a chance to gain insight into the kind of obstacles the parent will need to help their child overcome. They need to go there to see what kind of projects and demands will be necessary of their child so they can help guide them to success. — James, 33, Colorado
Over-Scheduling Before They Even Know What The Year Will Be Like
One of the most “annoying” things parents do these days before school even begins is over-schedule their kids. Kids these days are busy nearly every day after school and on a lot of the weekend. It seems to be becoming more and more popular to make sure kids are constantly stimulated and busy. I don’t think this is good for kids. Kids need downtime.
I often hear from kids that they didn’t have a chance to finish their homework because they were constantly busy from the minute school got out until late into the evening. They eat dinner in the car instead of sitting down with the entire family and enjoying a nice, social meal together. It’s great that a child plays a sport or is into a hobby, but when those things take up all of their free time, they are also missing out on a lot of what being a kid is all about.
It is becoming increasingly “popular” to be busy these days, but it isn’t always the healthiest choice. Kids spend 7 hours a day in school. They need some time to unwind and relax. Think about it: Don’t you just love when you get a day (or even a few hours) totally to yourself? You can do whatever you want and no one will say a thing? Well, kids want the same thing! — Cindy, 44, California
They Can’t Leave Their Kid Behind
Parents will drop their child off and then stare into the classroom door window for most of the morning. We had a parent ask if we could wipe their child’s behind. We also have had parents who come into the classroom and follow their child around on the first day in the mornings even though we ask them to go. — Jenny, 29, Texas
They Monopolize Your Time On The First Day
It drives me nuts when parents come to back-to-school night but then stay to talk to you after everyone else has left! Back-to-school days are long. We teachers usually leave around 8:45-9:00 at night and are exhausted! So the last thing we want to do is stay and talk for another hour. Let’s set up a time to meet during the afternoon instead!
Another pet peeve I have is when parents reach out (within the first week or so) immediately after posting their child’s first grade asking “what is going on.” By that point, I haven’t even remembered all of my 100 students names, let alone the strengths and weaknesses of each child. It takes time to learn these things and it takes time to get a true gauge of what they know and do not know. — Aleka, 33, New Jersey
When They Openly Talk Shit
I get very annoyed by the “complainer” parent in the back to school season. Don’t talk negatively about your child’s teachers. Stop complaining in the parent group, talking on the school yard and giving nasty stares. I get it, the supply list was super long, and you don’t understand why a four-year-old needs two different scissors and several boxes of tissues. But, don’t complain about it. Let’s talk about it. There’s always a reason for everything.
And the parent who never wants to say goodbye — I know it’s hard to leave your preschooler for the first time, but you actually make it more difficult for their transition when you stay for long periods of time in the classroom. And you definitely make it harder for the teachers. Find out ahead of time how your child’s school deals with drop-off time and the emotional side of it, because it is emotional. — Monica, 40, New York City