(BPT) - Consider the life of a teacher. It's not just a job and it's not just a profession. It's a lifestyle that requires a high level of dedication. When the final bell rings and the last yellow bus pulls away, chances are, your child's teacher doesn't just leave school behind at the end of the day.
Teachers have papers to grade, parent emails to answer and lessons to plan. Beyond that, teachers also spend their own money to supply their classrooms. According to the Education Market Association, 99.5 percent of all public school teachers use their own money to equip their classrooms. Usually, the costs they put in amount to more than $400 a year.
That alone illustrates that it takes a special kind of dedication to be a teacher. This year, show your child's teacher you have their back. Take a look at these five ideas, and see if there are some you can implement this school year.
Make yourself seen at school
Many schools offer volunteer opportunities for parents and other caring adults in the community. Think about what you'd like to do to help, and reach out to the school. They often need help with things like monitoring kids at recess or helping teachers with paperwork.
If your work schedule clashes with school hours, there are other ways to lend a hand. Volunteer to chaperone an occasional school field trip, or help coordinate orders for the school fundraiser. Whatever you do, your help directly supports creating a positive community.
Offer support from home
Ask any teacher, and they'll tell you that small issues can accumulate and derail the day. Fight unnecessary distractions by making sure your child shows up at school prepared and ready to focus on learning. Start with a good look at your home routine and get organized so kids get enough sleep, eat breakfast and show up to school with everything they need for the day.
Set aside a quiet space for homework, and be on hand to assist and encourage, seeking outside help if your child is struggling. Build a night-before routine where they pack their own lunches and backpacks, making sure they have things like homework, library books, reading glasses and permission slips. Check the weather report together every day, and talk through the forecast and what they'll need to stay comfortable to participate in outdoor activities.
Donate money to fund classroom supplies
When you look at that startling statistic that shows how much of a teacher's own resources they pour into their classrooms, the need and the solution couldn't be clearer.
That's why the Staples for Students program is donating $1 million to DonorsChoose.org - an online charity that has crowdfunded more than 900,000 classroom projects for teachers, benefiting more than 23 million children. You can help, too. Make your gift today at a Staples store or visit www.StaplesForStudents.org.
Practice open communication
Think of the teacher-parent link as a partnership that works on behalf of your child's learning, and it all starts with good communication. Keep in touch with emailed messages, whether your child is struggling with a specific concept or you just want to send simple words of encouragement.
Make time to attend student-teacher conferences, because these are a great opportunity to get a good overview about what your child is learning, your teacher's approach and where your child struggles. Finally, if your child has a problem, take it to the teacher first before you call the assistant principal. Chances are, the teacher has firsthand knowledge and insights that can help resolve the issue.
Cultivate a culture at home for good education
Most teachers have strong convictions that every child deserves a chance to have a good education. Send a consistent message to kids that school is their most important job. Practicing the above tips will convey that you value your child's time at school, but looking ahead is equally important.
Have those important conversations about the future and how education plays an important role in shaping it. If your child needs inspiration, read biographies of great people together, and talk about how their education (along with their determination and vision) made it possible.
Teachers have a highly demanding job and they play a key role in your child's life. Take time to show your child's teacher that you support them, and you can help set up your child for success.