How to Develop a Relationship With Your Child's Teacher
1. Establish a partnership in the learning process. Treat the teacher like a professional colleague when you meet for the first time. Make it clear you want to play a major role in your child's education by asking about homework expectations and appropriate ways you can continue the educational process at home. Most likely, the teacher will advise you to read with your child every night. There's no better advice! If your student is in middle school, you can help the teacher by checking your child's homework each night to ensure accountability. Also ask the teacher if homework assignments are posted on the school's Web site and become familiar with the site.
2. Help a teacher understand your child on a personal level. While it's true a teacher has a classroom full of students to understand, he or she will be very glad to hear pertinent information about your child's learning style, special abilities or challenges, as well as your home situation, such as a birth, adoption, separation or divorce. It's very smart to put this information into a brief letter and send it to the teacher during the first two weeks of school. Don't forget to provide detailed contact information so you can always be reached easily.
3. Find the best way to communicate. Ask a teacher how to best communicate about your child throughout the year. If it's e-mail, send a message midway into each grading period asking how your child is doing and how you can support anything new and different the teacher is doing in the classroom.
4. Get involved at school. There is nothing a teacher loves more than involved parents who want to help. If you can't assist in the classroom for an hour each week, ask for homework. A teacher will happily send projects home with your child for you to prepare at your convenience, such as bulletin board components. You can also chaperone field trips or send in extra supplies, like tissue boxes and antibacterial hand soap. Parents who get involved gain incredible insight into their children's academic careers.
5. Prepare for your parent-teacher conference. Start a list at the beginning of the year with questions you want to ask at the conference. Don't forget to ask these important questions:
- In what areas does my child need improvement?
- How I can help with this at home?
- How is my child doing in ancillary subjects, such as art and music?
- Is my child progressing socially as well as academically?
- Is my child being a responsible member of the class and treating other children with respect and kindness?
In addition to parent-teacher conferences, also be sure to attend all school functions.
6. If your child is upset about something, talk to the teacher immediately. Get the teacher's version of the facts before you react. If the problem is behavior-specific, the two of you can address the situation both at home and at school. If the problem involves another child, the teacher may suggest inviting the other child's parents to engage in a healthy discussion to determine a solution.
7. Reestablish contact throughout the school year. Whether you're following up on a problem or offering again to volunteer in the classroom, it's smart to reconnect with your child's teacher often throughout the year. Be respectful of a teacher's time, but remain an active partner in your child's education.
8. Show your appreciation. By sending a teacher an e-mail or a hand-written note, you are letting the teacher know that you appreciate all efforts to help your child. This is exactly the extra energy-boost a teacher needs after a challenging day.