Gifts for the Teachers in Your Life


Teacher Appreciation Week is May 6-10 this year. At Red Apple Reading we know the difference a good teacher can make in the life of a child. Hopefully, as parents we all show appreciation for our kids’ teachers throughout the school year, but this week gives us the opportunity to thank them in an extra special way. Teaching is one of the hardest and most important jobs in our society. Since they work so hard for our little ones, let’s think about how we can show teachers some much deserved gratitude!


While there is nothing wrong with a nice gift, sometimes we overlook how great a gift our time is in the lives of others. Why not schedule a time with your child’s teacher this week to go to the classroom and help out? Most teachers have enough projects to keep an entire army busy! Making copies, grading papers, facilitating centers, and running to the office are just a few of the jobs that teachers are usually happy to sub out. If you work during the day, you can still help – simply ask your kid’s teacher what you can help with from home after work. For instance, cutting out paper objects for bulletin boards, prepping art projects, and organizing folders are all things that can easily be done from home. This year consider giving the gift of your time to a teacher!

This next one will be no surprise to those of you familiar with Red Apple Reading. We do all that we can to encourage and facilitate reading – and this goes for the classroom as well! Unfortunately, due to budget constraints, many classroom libraries are woefully inadequate. This week consider picking up a few books to donate to your child’s classroom. While you’re at it, pick up a book just for her. Visit Amazon to view lists of books for teachers. You are sure to find something she would enjoy reading. When you are shopping for a teacher it’s hard to go wrong with a good book.

A Note of Thanks
Along with a little gift, make sure you include a heart felt letter of appreciation to your child’s teacher. Very often the only communication teachers receive from parents is negative in nature. When things are going well for our little ones, we rarely stop to acknowledge the hard work their teacher has invested to give them a positive school experience. Even on good days, teaching is a challenge. Show your gratitude to your kiddo’s teacher by writing a sincere letter of appreciation. It is also a good idea to have your child do the same. A few sweet words could really make an instructor’s day. If your child is too young to write, a nice, hand drawn picture (perhaps of her and her teacher) is sure to be meaningful too!

Don’t let Teacher Appreciation Week slip by unnoticed this year. Teachers are so important in the lives of our kids and they deserve our respect and encouragement. The type of gift you give is less important than the sentiment behind it. Does your child’s teacher know how much he or she is appreciated? Make sure to show them this week! We would love to hear your ideas on how you honor the teachers in your life.

How to Communicate With Your Child’s Teachers: The Dos and Don’ts

How to Communicate With Your Child’s Teachers - Red Apple ReadingWe all know that parent-teacher communication is important. After all, in the ideal scenario, you and your child’s teacher will be partnering together throughout the year to help your child achieve his full potential. So, how do you ensure that the line of communication between you and your kid’s teacher is a clear and open one? Consider the following Dos and Don’ts.

Do Make the First Move
Approach your child’s teacher at the beginning of the year, and let her know that you want to play an active role in your child’s education. Tell her that she can call or email you anytime, whether it’s to discuss your child’s progress or ask for assistance in the classroom. Taking this first step will make a positive impression and open up the door for future communications.

Do Email Teachers
Most teachers today much prefer an email to a telephone call. It’s just so much easier to send an email from their desks rather than walk to the office to return a call. Plus, with email, you have a record of all past conversations, which is immensely helpful when you’re dealing with the parents of dozens of different kids. When in doubt, ask the teacher directly how she prefers to be contacted.

Do Pay Compliments
Have you ever gotten a call from a teacher about your child’s good behavior? It’s always a nice surprise for parents, but the same is true for teachers. When parents contact them, it’s usually about a problem. If you’re loving something your child’s teacher is doing in class, let her know!

Don’t Wait for a Phone Call
If your maternal (or paternal) instincts tell you that something is up with your little one, don’t make the mistake of waiting for the teacher to point it out. Remember, the teacher has a classroom full of twenty or more kids to look after each day, and she’s only human. Even if she is aware of a problem, it may get put on the back burner if she has more pressing issues to deal with. Remember the squeaky wheel analogy, and speak up.

Don’t Blame the Teacher
Even if you disagree with a teacher’s instructional methods, it’s never a good idea to resort to attack mode. Not only is it rude, but it could likely impact the relationship between your child and the teacher. If you have a legitimate concern and don’t feel like you can voice it civilly to your child’s teacher, then speak with the principal instead. A conference with a neutral party may be in order.

Parent-teacher communication can sometimes be difficult, but making the effort to communicate frequently will pay off for your child in the long-term. How often do you communicate with your kid’s teacher?

Debunking Myths About Combination Classrooms

Debunking Myths About Combination ClassroomsHave you heard of the combination classroom? If not, then it may be just a matter of time before it debuts in a school near you. With education budgets tighter than ever, these types of classroom environments are becoming more prevalent. So just what are they, exactly? Combination classrooms, also referred to as multi-grade classrooms, are those that accommodate students of different ages and grade levels under the instruction of a single teacher. Most parents panic when they learn of the possibility that their child may be put in the same classroom as children older or younger than them, but research has shown that there’s really no reason to fear. To put those worries aside, let’s examine and debunk some of the myths surrounding combination classrooms.

Myth 1: The teachers aren’t qualified.
In reality, principals typically recognize the increased challenge that a combination classroom poises and, as a result, choose the most experienced and qualified teachers on staff for these positions. Furthermore, these teachers often receive extensive training in order to learn the best practices for effectively managing the multi-grade classroom.

Myth 2: The teachers are overwhelmed.
Any teaching job can be overwhelming at times, but combination classroom teachers usually get more planning time and fewer duties outside of the classroom. Many of these teachers even have their own classroom aide to help ease the burden.

Myth 3: Students don’t perform as well academically.
Studies have shown that students taught in multi-grade  learning environments perform just as well—and in some cases, better—than students taught in a traditional classroom environment.

Myth 4: Older children won’t be challenged in a combination class.
Older children in combination classrooms not only receive grade-level instruction, but they also retain prior knowledge better since they often teach these skills to younger students in the class.

Myth 5: Children in combination classrooms don’t do well socially.
Although some parents and educators alike have expressed concerns that children in combination classrooms miss out on the social benefits gained from interacting with their same-age peers, studies often reveal the opposite. That is, research has shown that students in these types of learning environments not only get along better with one another, but also form more satisfying relationships with their teachers since they usually remain in the combination classroom for more than one school year. Advocates of the multi-grade classroom argue that the learning environment actually promotes enhanced social skills since it more accurately mimics the type of social situation a student will likely encounter in the “real world.”

The results of research conducted on combination classrooms thus far are quite impressive, and if studies continue to yield positive findings, then these types of classrooms may become the norm in the future. If you’re interested in finding out more about multi-grade classrooms including how and why they work, I’d highly recommend you check out The Multigrade Classroom: A Resource for Small, Rural Schools. It’s full of information for parents and teachers alike.

4 Ways to Evaluate Success in School

4 Ways to Evaluate Success in School

Have you ever been caught off guard by problems at school? You’re not alone. Even the most well-meaning among us can make the mistake of thinking things are fine in school when in reality, there’s trouble brewing. Later, we ask ourselves how we could have been so blind. If you’re determined to stay on top of things this school year, consider these four important reminders for evaluating your child’s success in school.

Look at the Big Picture
“Making the grade” is a common mantra amongst parents and teachers alike, and we’re all guilty of using the report card alone as an indicator of our child’s performance and success in school. If he’s making all A’s, we think to ourselves, then what could be wrong? Unfortunately, a lot of things. Grades are just one part of the equation. Be sure to look at the big picture when evaluating your child’s school success including his temperament, wellbeing, motivation, and interests.

Challenge is a Good Thing
Contrary to popular belief, straight A’s across the board could actually be a warning sign. We all want our kids to excel, but if she’s making 100s on every assignment and test, then she could be missing out on one of the most important aspects of school—challenge. The truth is, if your child is never challenged, then she’s never learning. Period. According to the Examiner, when students are accustomed to mastering subjects easily, they become fearful of challenges.

School Is Social Hour
Or is it? One of the major benefits of public school is the opportunity for your child to interact with their same-age peers. As incomprehensible as it may be to you now, these are the people your child will be dealing with in the “real world” one day, on both a personal and professional level. As you well know, no matter how smart or educated someone is, if they’re unable to get along and communicate with others, then they will be severely limited in terms of what they’ll be able to accomplish within their communities and personal lives. So, what can you do to ensure that your child is excelling in the social arena? Talk to your child’s teacher, and ask her to paint a picture of your child amidst the social landscape of the classroom. She’s the next best thing to a fly on the wall.

When Your Kid Talks, Listen
You’ve heard it before—kids should be seen and not heard, right? Wrong! If your child has a complaint about school, listen! Children are amazingly intuitive, and they know when something’s not quite right. Don’t make the mistake of ignoring their cries. Whether it be an abusive teacher or a bully in the classroom, there are threats within the public school system, and it’s much better to err on the side of caution rather than miss a warning sign and have your child suffer as a result.

School success goes well beyond the letters on a report card. Achievement can also be measured by your child’s personality, athleticism, talents, and most importantly—his happiness. How do you measure your child’s school success?