A child’s academic success is greatly enhanced when teachers and parents are partners in the process. Most parents think that means attending conferences or bringing in treats for birthdays. However, there is so much more parents can do to build a solid relationship bridge.
Positive parent-school communications benefit everyone: the parents, the student, and the teacher. Unfortunately, we all have widely varying communication styles and expectations so misunderstandings are bound to occur. That’s the nature of any relationship. As the new school year approaches, we hope these tips provide parents guidance for making stronger connections with teachers.
Meet your child’s teacher. Most schools offer a back to school orientation so that parents can meet the teachers their child will have for the year. Meet your older student’s teachers as well. Yes, there are more of them, but it is still good to give the teacher your contact information. Make your expectations and goals for your child clear to the teacher so that they may contact you if any problems develop with your child. Talking with your child’s teacher helps solidify the partnership between you both. Don’t hesitate to ask for an interpreter as well. A language barrier shouldn’t stop you from communicating with your child’s teacher. What you have to say is more important than the language you say it in!
Communicate with your child’s teacher. Do everything you can to communicate effectively with your child’s teacher. Attend parent-teacher conferences. Read the newsletters that come home. If you have a concern and are not able to meet face-to-face, send the teacher a short note or set up a time to talk on the phone, email, or text. If the school or teacher has a Social Media page or website, like the page and communicate through social media if that works best for you. Let the teacher know how to best get a hold of you.
Support your child’s relationship with her teacher. Kids who feel connected with their teacher are more ready to learn. Help to facilitate a positive relationship between your child and their teacher by talking about the teacher in a positive manner. Find out how your child is doing. Ask the teacher how well your child is doing in class and what you or the school can do to help. Demonstrate a positive attitude about education to your children. What you say or do in your daily life can help your child develop positive attitudes toward school and learning and to build confidence in themselves as learners. Showing your children that you value education, the teachers, and school staff provides them with powerful models and contributes greatly to their success in school.
Make sure that your child gets homework done. Let your child know that you think education is important and that homework needs to be done each day. You can help your child with homework by setting aside a special place to study, establishing a regular time for homework, and removing distractions such as the television and social phone calls during homework time. Let your child know it is okay to ask the teacher for extra help if they do not understand the assignment. However, doing your child’s homework is never a good idea and won’t help him in the long run. If homework is difficult, let the teacher know. The school may have resources to help alleviate homework woes.
Volunteer at the school. Teachers appreciate it when parents help out at the school! There are many ways you can contribute. Stop in once a week for 15 minutes after school to sharpen pencils to fill all those pencil boxes. Lend a hand filing papers or organizing report cards to go home. If you have time to spare during the week, help reorganize the classroom library, make copies or wipe down desks, tables, and windows. Even parents who work can help by attending night meetings such as PTO, volunteering for after school extracurricular activities, or seeing if there are items to take home such as cutting out papers for the bulletin board.
Ask questions. If something concerns you about your child’s learning or behavior, ask the teacher or principal about it and seek their advice. Your questions may be about specific problems your child may be having with a subject such as reading and how you can help your child with this problem. You may have questions on how to stop a bully from picking on your child. The more you communicate with your child’s teacher the better the outcome.
Encourage your child to read. Helping your child become a reader is the single most important thing that you can do to help the child to succeed in school and in life. The importance of reading simply can’t be overstated. Your child’s teacher will appreciate the help and it will foster the relationship between the child and reading. Reading helps children in all school subjects. More important, it is the key to lifelong learning. Encourage your child to use the library. Libraries are places of learning and discovery for everyone. Remember that libraries also offer a quiet place for students to complete homework, and are often open in the evening.
Act as allies instead of adversaries. When communication happens primarily through the child, parents and teachers don’t have an opportunity to build their own relationship. One solution is that parents and teachers come together as a team in the way they communicate. Teachers and parents can focus their language to be team-oriented by saying things like, “Since we both care so much about Taylor, let’s work together to find a way to improve things.” It’s helpful for parents and teachers to remember that they have the same goal and that is that both want the best for the student.
Fill out information. Keep up to date by reading the papers your child brings home and filling out any information the school asks for. This will help your teacher immensely. Especially if your teacher sends home a survey with questions such as: What are your child’s strengths and weaknesses? What does your child do in his spare time? This information helps your child’s teacher get to know each student as a person and learner.
Take part in school sponsored activities. Many times schools will host fun family activities such as a movie or bingo night. Go to as many of these as you are able to do. One, you will be able to bond more with your child’s teacher and other staff members in a non-academic setting and also, it shows your child that you care about their school. You are also providing an example to your children that relationships take time and effort and since you want a relationship with the school, your child is more app to develop those relationships as well.
Every time you communicate with the teacher and school, spend time reading with a child, or help in your child’s classroom this year, you’re strengthening your child’s connection with school, and ultimately, your connection with their teacher and that’s always worth the effort!