Parents and teachers are two halves of a team tasked with raising educated, well-balanced children. When we work together, students benefit. We asked 11 parents like you what they think works best to create and maintain great relationships with their child’s teachers.
While parents are often going through each new grade level with their child for the first time, teachers have likely been there before and have the experience to help. Kimberly Coleman of Mom in the City says, “I find it most helpful when I know exactly what type of assistance the teachers want from the parents in their classroom. Notes at the beginning of the year letting parents know what classroom materials, in-class volunteer needs and such are desired helps to avoid confusion.” Another parent, Jeannette Kaplun of Hispana Global says, “A successful school year means teachers, parents, and students need to work together as a team. Explaining what’s the best way to communicate is always helpful and also helps parents feel they can reach out.”
Healthy relationships are fueled by frequent and regular communication. Asha Dornfest of Parent Hacks says, “Given every teacher’s time constraints, it’s impossible to hit the perfect level of communication that satisfies every parent in the class, but if you are able to set tone and frequency expectations right at the beginning of the year—whether with a weekly email, “office hours,” or a printed newsletter—parents will know where to begin.” Also, don’t limit yourself to thinking the only way to communicate with teachers are via the phone or email. Kelly Wickham, a middle school guidance dean, says, “ I have found that the best way teachers at the middle school level can work with parents during the school year is to connect at events our school puts on. Since it’s not one-on-one conferencing, there is a more relaxed atmosphere that fosters positive collaboration.”
Adults wear a lot of hats, but can’t always be everything to everyone. Just like teachers innovate in the classroom, use your skills to help build a better learning environment for your child at school and at home. Casey Carey-Brown from Life with Roozle put it best when he said, “So often parents try to help their child’s teacher with what they think is needed. If you offer what you’re good at instead, everyone benefits.” As with all teams, giving the best parts of you makes the team as a whole stronger. This works for teachers too, who often use their skills to keep parents in the loop. Audrey McClelland of Mom Generations says, “This year it was so cool that my son’s first grade teacher used Pinterest as a shared account so we all knew what kinds of activities she was planning. She would pin crafts and fun learning exercises.”
Even if it’s not the beginning of the year, it’s never too late to establish good teamwork with your child’s teachers. We all want to see students succeed, so open up those lines of communication with teachers, set expectations and check in often to make sure you’re tracking your child’s progress.