Starting school can be both a fun and scary experience. Going from a small daycare where parents are able to speak with their child’s teacher daily to a public or private school of several hundred students where parents may or may not see their child’s teacher on a daily basis can be quite intimidating for the child as well as the parent.
In situations like this, how is it possible to develop a relationship with your child’s teacher? How do you effectively communicate with your child’s teacher?
There are several things parents can do to set the tone for a successful academic year while also making the transition from daycare to elementary school a little easier.
To have an effective successful school year, a parent should strive to have a positive partnership with their child’s teacher. In my opinion, the following tips can help parents foster a positive parent/teacher relationship…
Establish a routine of open communication from day one.
Although you may not see your child’s teacher on a regular basis, that should not deter the communication. If you have a question or concern, you should feel comfortable to reach out either in an email or phone call and allow the teacher to respond within 48 hours.
Prior to the first day of school, most schools have a “Meet the Teacher” event. This is a time where students are able to see their classroom, meet their classroom teacher as well as drop off their school supplies.
In kindergarten, this is a “Mini Open House.” I say it is a “Mini Open House” because this is the child’s first time entering the public school environment and everything is new to the child and their family. For the teacher, there are several questions that must be answered before families can leave…
- How will your child be going home for the first day/week? Is this different from how they will go home the remaining portion of the year?
- Will they bring lunch from home or buy school lunch?
- Do they have any known allergies?
In addition to these questions, most teachers have an index card set out so parents can jot down the phone number they can be best reached at as well as any email addresses they prefer to receive correspondence from the school.
As a kindergarten teacher of 10 years, I also leave out a parent questionnaire for parents to complete. I have found this questionnaire can be quite comforting for parents as they are able to put down things that are not traditionally asked by the school.
Questions such as, what is your child’s favorite subject? Do they have any hobbies or extra-curricular activities they are involved in? Are there any academic concerns the parent has regarding the child?
Throughout the year, I try to make it my business to get to know each and every one of my students in the classroom as well as their family dynamics.
Do they live with both parents; do the parents share custody and if so, which weekend does each parent have; as well as are there any extra-curricular activities they are involved in. If the child is in any extra-curricular activities, I try to attend them and show my support to let them know I truly am there for them.
Simple things such as this really can make a difference in your relationship with not only the child but it can also help bridge a gap between school and home. The student feels you love and care for them and that you are invested in their interests and when they feel this way, they strive to do their best and work hard in the classroom so they will not let you down.
Do you communicate your expectations for your child to their teacher? If you do not, how do you expect the teacher to know what your expectations are?
Another tip that can help foster positive relationships between parents and their child’s teacher is to get involved.
Many schools have an active Parent Teacher Association (PTA) where parents are able to join for a small fee. Upon joining, parents have access to firsthand information regarding volunteering for school/classroom events and they can also choose to hold a position on the executive board.
In addition to PTA, a lot of teachers have numerous classroom volunteer opportunities where parents can help out. Opportunities such as a volunteering to help out during parties or chaperoning on field trips are just a few.
If your schedule does not permit you to help during the day, some teachers send home activities to be cut out or organized.
One of the most important volunteer opportunities in the classroom is the Room Parent. A Room Parent works closely with the teacher to organize all parties in the classroom as well as correspondence between the teacher and other parents regarding these events.
Keep It Positive
Whatever you do, do not speak negatively about your child’s teacher in front of your child regardless of how you may feel about them which will allow your child to form their own thoughts and opinions. Strive to treat each other with respect at all times.If any problem arises, reach out and address it in a professional manner as quickly as possible. Often times, situations arise that can lead to a misunderstanding in which a simple call or email could have resolved it before it blows out of proportion.
Benefits of Partnering With Your Child’s Teacher
Did you know that simply having a positive parent/teacher relationship can contribute to your child’s academic success? How you perceive your child’s school as well as their teacher can really help how your child perceives education. If children have a healthy relationship with their teacher, it can foster a love for learning and the child can soar both academically and socially.
“Students with parents who are involved in their school tend to have fewer behavioral problems and better academic performance, and are more likely to complete high school than students whose parents are not involved in their school” (https://www.childtrends.org/indicators/parental-involvement-in-schools/).
What are some of the ways you partner with your child’s teacher? If you do not currently, how do you plan to in the future?