Make a Connection with Your Child’s Teacher

teamworkLast week marked the end of the school year for public schools in Bozeman. I made a point of attending the closing assembly for employees of the school district and was once again impressed by the dedication of the folks we trust our children to each and every school day of the year.

As a former school district employee, I know that it takes a certain amount of grit to persevere over the years. While listening to comments about this year’s retiring teachers and staff I started to think about some of my kids’ former teachers. And as I continued to think about these teachers so many descriptive words came to mind.

Dedicated. Caring. Creative. Nurturing. Smart. Witty. Insightful. And these are just a few of the adjectives that I could use to describe these people. In retrospect, I wonder if I should have done more to let them know how much I appreciated them.

One thing I’ve learned from my experiences as a parent and a school secretary is that it’s vitally important to have an open line of communication between you and your child’s teacher.

We’ve heard it said many times that parents and teachers are a team working together for the benefit of the child. This has never been more true than it is now in our busy society.

If your child knows that you have developed a positive relationship with her teacher she will feel more confident that things will go well at school. When you project a feeling of trust in her teacher she will also trust and it won’t be unusual for her to feel that she has an advocate in her corner each time she walks into the classroom.

So what are some good ways to open the lines of communication between home and school and to keep them open? Here’s a short list of solid ideas to use as a starting point.

  1. Attend the first Meet and Greet of the school year. Many schools have these mini-open houses where parents and students can meet the teacher and see the classroom a day or two before school starts. This initial contact with the teacher is very important so do everything you can to juggle your schedule so you and your child can attend.
  2. Most teachers are happy to communicate via email these days. Be sure to ask your child’s teacher if this is a possibility and if so, get the email address and use it responsibly. Teachers are swamped with things every day and the last thing they need is an email from a parent asking them to make sure that Susie brings home her gym clothes so they can be washed this weekend. But teachers do need emails that tell them that Susie is suddenly balking at going to gym class. In this case the parent and the teacher can become co-sleuths finding out if there’s a problem in gym class that needs to be addressed. This type of communication engenders teamwork and a common interest in the good of the child.
  3. Make it a point to read the classroom newsletter, whether it’s in paper or electronic format. The newsletter is a great communication tool for teachers and gives insight to your child’s school day. If there’s something you need more information on you can ask the teacher to clarify. Clear communication is key to a good parent-teacher relationship.
  4. Volunteer in the classroom or on field trips if at all possible. If, when reading the newsletter you notice that the kids will be touring the fire station next week, perhaps you can rearrange your work schedule to help chaperone. Or maybe you don’t go in to work until 11:00 each morning. Check with your child’s teacher if there’s a need for you to come in for an hour before work once a week to read with students or help stuff the students’ weekly take-home folders. Or if you can’t find a moment to help during the school day, consider offering to collate papers or do other odd classroom jobs at home in the evening. Even doing some random internet research for an upcoming classroom project can be a big help to your child’s teacher and will be greatly appreciated. The important thing here is to join the teacher in creating a supportive environment for the kids.

Although there are many other good ideas out there, you can use this list as a starting point in crafting your own ways to strengthen the parent-teacher bond. And rest assured that it’s worth the effort it takes because in the long run your child is the winner. When both parents and teachers are working together it creates an environment that is supportive to kids- an environment that sends a message to your child that she is important. She will feel the trust and respect you and her teacher have for each other and this is definitely a winning situation.

In closing today and as I look at the calendar, I wish you and your family a happy start to summer. Get out and enjoy it with your child!

Cathie

P.S. Here are a couple links to more good information on parent-teacher communication. Enjoy!

Parenting.com

PBS Parents

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