Building a healthy parent-teacher relationship

It’s the first week of school for most students now and besides buying all the school supplies, packing lunches and chauffeuring the kids around to each of their practices, there is something that parents might be missing. A strong parent-teacher relationship is important when it comes to your child’s success in school.

The best way to support your child’s needs is to build and maintain a strong, positive relationship with all the people at school who play a role in educating your child. And, make sure your child knows that this is a team effort — you’re all working together to help him or her succeed!

Here are a few tips on how to build a better relationship between you and your child’s teacher:

Introduce yourself to the teacher early.
Start the year off right. Don’t wait for a problem before making contact. Find a way to say hello and to help the teacher attach your face to your name. Exchange emails and keep in contact at least monthly, even if your child is doing well. This is time to simply let the teacher know who you are and that you are a parent who is interested in your child’s education.

Maintain a connection during the school year.

  • Stay involved! Make a point to show up and participate in events such as the annual science fair, back-to-school night and open house.
  • Be on time, positive, and prepared for school activities and meetings.
  • Offer to volunteer your time in the classroom or as a chaperone on class trips, which your kids will probably love as well!
  • Consider donating classroom supplies or a gift certificate to a store where teachers can purchase materials for the classroom. (You’d be surprised how many supplies teachers buy with their own money!)
  • Contribute fun extras to the classroom like prizes, disposable cameras, extra snacks and look for ways to help the teacher maintain a fun learning environment.

Communicate regularly.
Email is a great way to maintain a connection. Every few weeks, send a comment on what your child has brought home from school. Be sure to compliment the teacher on interesting lessons and to share moments when your child repeats something positive that happened at school. Let the teacher know early if a particular skill or subject is giving your child trouble. In addition, keep the teacher informed if there are issues at home that should be kept in mind if your child is struggling. Children don’t leave family crises (like a parent’s or sibling’s illness,  divorce, parental stress) at home; they don’t leave the excitement about an anticipated event (like a new baby, visiting favorite relatives, a special birthday) at home either. Kids who are unhappy and kids who are excited are often distracted from school work.

If there’s a problem.
This is where the good relationship you’ve worked so hard to establish pays off. You know that you and the teacher both want the best for your child. If your child carries home a tale of teacher meanness or unfairness, maintain a neutral stance until you have more information. Don’t talk negatively about a teacher in front of your kids. Instead, email or call the teacher and ask politely for the teacher’s point of view. You’re on the same team. When both parent and teacher stay focused on the problem at hand, be it a child’s need for practice with a skill or a bit of an attitude adjustment, things can usually be worked out.

  • Send handwritten notes of thanks to all your child’s teachers telling them once more how much you appreciated the special attention they gave your child.
  • Keep in touch — send a card every now and then to let your child’s teacher know the lasting impact they had on your child’s future.
  • Remember that with any partnership, communication is the key to success — get involved and stay involved!

If you want to read more tips on how to build a better parent-teacher relationship, check out these links from PsychCentral and the NCLD website!

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