A good working relationship with your child’s school is in everyone’s best interest. That means that you and the teacher need to work together cooperatively to help your child succeed. Since I was once a teacher and administrator I’ve complied a list of ways to foster a positive parent teacher relationship.
The start of a new school year can be stressful for everyone. You’re probably getting ready to attend Open House at your child’s school. You’ve bought the supplies and may even already be back in school after the summer break. You may be thrilled that school is back in session but there’s no doubt about it – every school year brings the renewed hope that this will be the best year yet. A good parent teacher relationship goes a long way to making that hope a reality.
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Too often these days, teachers do not get support from parents. When a teacher feels that she won’t get the support needed from home, it’s only human that she becomes reluctant to contact the parents when there’s an issue. This is a lose-lose situation for everyone involved – especially for your child.
On the other hand, teachers who know that they will find a supportive parent at home are much more likely to pick up the phone or compose an email to keep that parent informed as to what’s going on at school. You want to be THAT parent, and not the parent that teachers dread having to interact with.
9 things you can do to make your child’s teacher love you:
Make contact early
Making contact with your child’s teacher early in the year lets her know that you’re interested in your child’s education. Like most people, teachers prefer to contact a friendly ally that they’ve already met.
Provide current phone numbers and email address
You’d be surprised how often teachers try to contact a parent and can’t because the information is out of date, or worse, purposely withheld.
ASK how you can help your child succeed
And then do it!
This may mean checking a folder or backpack each night, or checking the teacher’s website for upcoming class information. The point is that you follow through with the teacher’s suggestions to help your child master the material and gain the skills that are required for this subject or school year. The simple fact is that your child needs to succeed this year in order to be successful next year.
Related Post: 10 Tips To Have A Great School Year
Respond in a timely manner to emails, notes, and phone calls
School problems don’t magically get better when they’re ignored. If nothing else, your child’s teacher wants to be sure that you’re aware of any information she’s sent home.
Don’t hover at school or show up demanding to see the teacher “right now!”
Your child’s teacher is not available at a moment’s notice – they only have a specified conference period each day. Some days that conference time is already scheduled to attend an ARD meeting or a meeting with other parents, colleagues, or administrators.
It’s also likely that the teacher has assigned duties before and after school and cannot leave that duty unattended for an unscheduled meeting those times either.
A sad reality about most schools these days is that they’re understaffed. Pulling a teacher away from duty means that students have less supervision while she’s gone. Your child’s teacher will be happy to meet with you – just ask the school secretary to have the teacher call you to set up an appointment or send an email requesting one.
Related Post: 11 Insider Tips For A Successful School Year
Remember that your child is not her only student
Depending on the grade level and department configuration, your child’s teacher can have anywhere from 20-200 students. (I had several years where I had 180+ students) Don’t demand that the teacher contact you daily. As a former administrator I’ve seen and talked to parents who wanted to hear from the school every day.
We know you’re concerned, but daily contact is not possible. You will wear the teacher out! Let her know how to contact you when there’s a problem or something you need to know about. Otherwise, leave the contacting schedule to her.
Don’t assume the teacher is the enemy when there’s a problem
When an issue arises, TALK to the teacher before drawing any conclusions.
Okay, I’m going to get brutally honest here – very often parents assume that the teacher is “out to get” their child whenever there’s a problem with behavior or grades.
We all love our kids and want the best for them. But sometimes that means realizing that kids will be kids. Trust me, your child’s teacher has likely seen a range of behaviors that might even shock you. If your child has a problem or is in trouble, the teacher is not blaming you for the child’s behavior – they’ve seen enough to know it’s just a kid being a kid.
The problem comes in when parents assume that their child would never do that! Even the most wonderful child with the best parents in the world will occasionally push the boundaries to see what they can get away with – it’s human nature. So if something happens at school, don’t freak out. Blame and accusations accomplish nothing. Let’s just have a conversation, make a plan to solve the problem, and move on.
Related Post: 8 Messages Kids Need To Hear About Learning
If your child is taking standardized tests this year, be supportive
It’s not the teacher’s fault (nor is it the school’s fault) if certain tests are required since some tests are mandated by law.
And if truth be told, I can’t say that I know a single teacher who went into the profession because they loved giving standardized tests.
Most teachers know they’re simply a fact of life these days and they try to make the best of it. You can help by encouraging your child to do their best and not freak out. And the best way for your child not to freak out is for you to refrain from freaking out too! A low-key but supportive approach to testing is generally best.
Finally, remember that your child’s learning is ultimately up to them
They’re the one who has to pay attention in class. They’re the one who must do the homework and study for the tests. Students who succeed in school – and in life – have parents who don’t make excuses for them or expect that the path be made easier. Holding your child accountable will pay off in the long run.
The hardest job in the world is being a parent.
The second hardest job is being a teacher.
Working together helps ensure that the child has a successful year and grows on their journey to becoming an educated, competent adult. That’s the purpose of education and the job takes all of us.