As school gets underway, you may find yourself wondering how the year will go for your child. No doubt you are hoping for a low-stress school year filled with accomplishment. But the road to academic success has a few stop signs along the way – like academic struggles and social issues.
There are many ways to prepare for the stop signs you will encounter during this new school year. But there is one secret that will pave the way to true success: develop a strong parent-teacher connection.
When it comes to your child, certainly you are the most important adult in his life. But right after you comes his teacher. If you think about, your child will spend approximately 40 hours a week in the care of the school and his teacher(s). That’s the same amount of time spent at a full-time job.
At a job, you develop strong relationships with your co-workers to ensure you have a successful working experience. The same is true for your student – a strong parent-teacher relationship will ensure a successful school experience.
It may not seem like much, but the connection you have with your child’s teacher can have a direct impact on his experiences at school. If you show your child that you are putting trust in his teacher, it gives him another reason to trust, too.
The key to maintaining any healthy relationship is with regular and consistent communication.
It is important that you become involved in your child’s education. But involvement doesn’t stop at checking the backpack and making sure homework gets done. Real, true involvement takes effort and dedication…and it is well worth it!
Here are some simple ways to effectively communicate with your child’s teacher:
- Keep school contact information accessible. Consider placing it right on the fridge or by the phone. Make sure to have not only the teacher’s contact information, but also the numbers for attendance and the main office, in case of emergencies.
- Take the time to make introductions. Meet the Teacher Nights are a good first step, but make an effort to really introduce yourself. In person meetings are best, but a phone conversation can work just as well. Be polite, cordial, and ask what you can do to help. Also, make sure to introduce yourself to the school secretary and any other important people in your student’s life (like the intervention specialist or guidance counselor).
- Keep conversations professional, courteous, and friendly. You may be upset if your teacher calls to say your child is struggling in class. But getting upset will not solve any problems. It will only add to increased levels of stress. Take a deep breath and ask what you can do to help. (Tip: if you smile while you’re on the phone, it can be heard in your voice!)
- Be sure to return messages. If the school is taking the time to call you, it must be a matter of importance. Don’t delay in returning messages. If they try to reach you while you’re at work, see if you can step aside for a minute to take the call. If not, make a point to call on your lunch break or once you’re off for the day.
- Be proactive. If you notice that your child is struggling in school or with homework, contact the teacher right away. Do not wait until an exam to tell your teacher that Billy has problems with fractions. Address the concerns immediately to find an appropriate solution. Work together as a team.
- Go the extra mile. “What can I do to help?” If you have the time, offer to chaperone field trips or help out at school events. If your time is limited, consider bringing in a class treat to the next classroom event. Make your face present at the school and offer to assist when you have the time.
- Be an advocate for your child’s education. Listen to your local news to see what changes are coming to your local school district. Watch out for mailers, newsletters, and the school website for important dates and events. If you have strong feelings about a particular change, make your voice known in a calm and rational manner. (For example, last year many parents requested that their teachers provide family instruction on the methods used in common core math so they could help their children with their homework.)
With these tips in hand, you are on the road to a successful school year! Now, keep both eyes on the road and enjoy the trip!
Do you have any other tips for how to communicate with schools and teachers? Share them in our comments.