While parents around the country debated the best ways to help students cope with hardships in their lives, one teacher from Georgia decided to speak out, posting a shocking reality that many parents admitted they hadn’t even thought about. Amie Brown uploaded this snapshot to her Facebook page, and within days it had been seen by hundreds of thousands of people. The picture was of two stacks of “letters” from 14 years apart, and as soon as she explained what the letters were about, people were floored.
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, etc and jokingly ask parents to limit it to less than a million words since we all know we could talk forever about our children,” Brown wrote.
Here’s what she’s noticed.
I have learned about eating disorders, seizures, jealousy issues between twins, depression, adoption, abuse…just to name a few things. These letters give me a huge head start on getting to truly know my students. I often pull them out when a child has a sudden change in behavior or issue that comes up. Just this week I had 2 students lose their mother unexpectedly. 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.”
But as the years went on, less and less letters were turned in. She’d given parents all of the options, too. They could send her an email, drop off the a written letter in the office, print out a letter to send back with their child, or any way they saw fit. This year, only 22% turned in a letter as opposed to the 98% that turned them in during the 2003 school year. She urges parents not to wait until their child is failing to come to the teachers for help.
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.”
And her message hit home for a lot of parents who plan to do just that.
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