Many parents think no news is good news when it comes to your child’s education. While this is often the case, it’s always a good idea to establish a productive working relationship with your child’s teacher, so if concerns arise, they can be handled in the best interest of your child.
* Be proactive.
Initiate conversations with your child’s teacher. If you pick up your child from their classroom, say hi. Often after spending the entire day with children, the teacher is excited to share some adult conversation, but use your judgement: if it looks like the teacher has had a long day, keep it short. “Remember that it’s not that they don’t want to talk to you, it might just not be a good time. Instead of face-to-face conversation, write a quick email to check in and find out how things are going. Again, keep it short and to the point, and try asking a specific question you’d like to have answered. Making the first move is a proactive way to start conversation about your child.
* Use a friendly tone.
So often tone is difficult to decipher with email. Teachers are just like many other service professionals – they want to be acknowledged for their work in a positive manner. Starting email or phone messages with a compliment about something they’ve done well for your child will set a positive and friendly tone to the conversation. Avoid demands – phrase your requests with a tone of collaboration, not combat. Teachers want to work with you to ensure success of your child, and a friendly tone helps begin the process.
* Listen to your child and their teacher.
Getting the full story involves listening to both your child and their teacher. Children and adults interpret actions in different ways. Honoring your child’s feelings is an important show of support, and acknowledging that the teacher might have a different point of view allows the parent to begin to see the whole picture. Teachers, parents and children can then work together to resolve a problem or improve communication. By valuing teachers’ professionalism, parents can teacher their children valuable lessons.
The school years can certainly be difficult for parents and children, but by working with your child’s teacher to create a positive relationship, challenges can be overcome and success can be experienced by all.