Everyday Etiquette for Parents and Teachers

By Diane Gottsman

1. When you drop off your child at his classroom, give him a hug and a kiss, tell him you will see him after school and leave! A crying child will stop crying about 14 seconds after mom leaves the room. It is difficult for a teacher to take control with mom attached to her shoulder. Multiply that by 20 moms and you've got the picture. That also includes having a powwow with other moms outside the classroom door.

  • Teacher's response: "All right, Mom and Dad, class is about to begin. Please help your child by getting on with your day. Good-bye."

2. Drop off time is not the time for an impromptu conference. If there is a question or concern, schedule a time when you can visit the teacher or call and request a meeting.

  • Teacher's advice: Don't feel compelled to engage in a mini conference every time you see the teacher. Simply say, "Good morning."

3. Don't arrive at the classroom early and expect to drop off your child. This is the time that teachers use to prepare and deal with last minute details for the upcoming day.

  • Teacher's advice: "Good morning, Mrs. Smith. Good morning, Jimmy. Please go to morning care and I will see you very soon."

4. Be informed. Check your child's book bag daily and make sure to keep up with homework assignments, library books, special events, extracurricular activities and picture day.

5. Bite your tongue. Conversations between you and your child's teacher should be confidential. If you are unhappy with the teacher, go through the appropriate channels. Do not get other parents involved.

  • Teacher's advice: "I have heard from other parents that you have a concern. I'd very much like to resolve the conflict. In the future, would you please come directly to me?"

6. Don't make comments about the teacher in front of your child. Modeling respect starts at home and it does not bode well for a child to hear their mom or dad discrediting the teacher.

  • Teacher's advice: Be mindful of the power you wield. Never, under any circumstances, berate, belittle or name call. It can make a lasting impression on the student.

by Diane Gottsman

7. Be open-minded. If the teacher sends a note home stating that your little Suzie walloped little Arnold in the stomach, don't jump to the conclusion that the teacher hates your child or that perhaps the note was sent home in the wrong book bag. Talk with your child and follow up with the teacher.

  • Teacher's advice: Be mindful of your tone. If you are feeling defensive, it will show in your voice.

8. Schedule family vacations during school vacation time. It's hard to understand why the necessary trip to Lego Land wasn't planned during the three months off rather than the first week of school.

  • Teacher's advice:If you must go on vacation during school days, talk with your child's teacher about how your student will handle the missed schoolwork.

9. Don't hand out birthday invitations at school to only a select few students. Be considerate of young, tender feelings by using the mail.

  • Teacher's advice: Resist any temptation to invite the teacher. The consensus is that it puts teachers in an uncomfortable position. Teachers spend a lot of time in the classroom and relish the time they have with their own friends and family.

10. Observe the snack policy. If the classroom policy prohibits sugary, sticky snacks, do not bring Krispy Kreme™ doughnuts and grape Kool-Aid.™ There is a reason for healthy snacks and your child's teacher appreciates your cooperation.

Children idolize teachers and look to them as role models. We are all blessed to have competent, caring teachers who are willing to share their time and experience with our most valuable assets. Teaching our children to respect authority is a lifelong lesson that serves everyone's best interests.

Diane Gottsman is a nationally recognized etiquette and protocol expert who leads age-appropriate etiquette programs for children as well as adults striving to fine-tune their skills. She has a master's degree in sociology/education. For more information, check out, or read previous Everyday Etiquette columns at Etiquette Archives