Establishing and maintaining a good working relationship with your child’s teacher, is a key factor to your child’s success at school. As an educator, parents constantly tell me that they want to be involved in their child’s learning at school, but often feel disconnected from the school environment. Sometimes they aren’t sure about how to connect with the school, or are worried about overstepping their boundaries with teachers. Parents tell me that they are worried about feeling like an intruder in their child’s school, and that they do not want to appear critical by asking questions.
The truth is, a good teacher wants to parents to be involved in their child’s education,and knows that parent support is their best ally. They want parents to ask questions. And, they want parents to communicate with them regarding their child’s learning.
So how can you effectively establish and maintain a good working relationship with your child’s teacher?
1. COMMUNICATE CONSTANTLY
You can never communicate too much with your child’s teacher. Not sure what your child is up to at school? ASK! Don’t be afraid to reach out just to touch base and see how things are going. And don’t be afraid to be the first one to reach out. Your child’s teacher will be happy to tell you what he/she is excelling in, as well as where he/she needs work. They can also to fill you in on any social challenges your child may be experiencing — not something kids are always eager to share with their parents. Pick up the phone and call your child’s teacher if you have a question. Send them a direct email or communicate through your child’s classroom website (if they have one). Most teachers also have online forums where you can message the teacher to chat informally about your child. If all else fails, request a face to face meeting with the teacher. Whatever you do – COMMUNICATE CONSTANTLY.
2. READ EVERYTHING THAT COMES HOME
Schools often send out written communication to parents. How often do parents actually take the time to really read it? Even skim it? Reading every piece of communication that comes home from school will give you a starting point of discussion with your child’s teacher. Use the information as a platform to ask more specific questions. For example, many teachers send home basic information about dates for upcoming events, testing schedules and progress reports. Don’t be afraid to ask for more. If you are supporting your child to complete their homework, why not ask for a complete outline of upcoming units so you can help them prepare? Sometimes kids are absent, or miss class for various reasons. Ask the teacher for assignment logs, day to day lists of what was taught in class, instructions sheets for projects, and work that was collected and assigned. YES, YOU CAN DO THAT. If your child struggles with a certain subject, why not ask the teacher for specific recommendations for resources that can help? If you would like to know more about volunteering opportunities in your child’s classroom, why not ask the teacher for specific avenues where you may be able to help? Always read all of the information that comes home from your child’s school.
3. GET PERSONAL
Sometimes our kids spend as much time with their classroom teacher than they do with us. Isn’t it nice to know who your child is interacting with every day, and who is influencing them in the school environment? Make a real effort to get to know your child’s teacher on a more personal level, and share information openly with him/her about your child and your family. Ask your child’s teacher about their own family, what they love about teaching, what they like to do in their spare time, and offer insights about your own child. Offer an open door for discussion wherever possible, and talk to your child’s teacher as a regular person instead of someone who is simply a member of the school system or “off-limits” to a parent. The reality is, as children get older, they often communicate less about what they are doing in school. If you develop a good relationship with your child’s teacher early by sharing information, and getting to know them on a more personal level, asking for this information is significantly easier.