Even though the weather still feels like summer the fall school semester is well underway. Families across the nation have purchased school supplies, new clothes, lunchboxes and backpacks. Children are going to bed earlier in order to be ready for early morning learning. All of these things make an impact on a child’s feeling of being prepared for the beginning of a new school year. However there is one thing that money cannot buy and it is often neglected – the partnership between a parent and teacher. Developing a positive parent/teacher relationship is important for your child’s success in school.
How do you foster a partnership between school and home especially when both teachers and parents are stretched for time? How can you as a parent assist the teacher in meeting your child’s needs?
• First of all, communication is important, which is easier said than done! At the beginning of the year take the time to greet your child’s teacher, face to face. Don’t wait until there is a problem to meet the teacher.
• Find an avenue of communication. Many schools limit parent/teacher contact due to heightened school security. Students are dropped off at the door and independently walk to their classrooms. Learning to be independent is great but it does limit parent/teacher communication. A great tool at our fingertips is e-mail. If you need to inform the teacher about your child’s absence, questions about homework, etc., e-mail is the way to go! Keep the e-mail message short and direct.
• Share the positive things your child says about school with the teacher. Everyone needs to feel their work is valued and appreciated.
• Pick up the phone and schedule a meeting with the teacher when there is a concern. If your child complains that they are being treated unfairly, remember there are two sides to every story. We are all human, and children and adults will sometimes have a bad day.
• Volunteer at the School. Inform the teacher of ways you can assist in school: cut out lamination, help create a bulletin board, listen to children read, help with a holiday party, speak to the class about your occupation, travel or hobby. Perhaps create a classroom fundraiser to purchase equipment or books. There are many ways to be involved.
• Attend school functions. Open houses and parent/teacher conferences are important.
• Get involved in parent/teacher organizations such as PTA.
• Look over your child’s work from the school. Take the time to discuss with your child the problems they missed. Remember, you are your child’s first teacher. The classroom teacher and you together are teaching your child.
• Read with your children daily. If a person can read, they can educate themselves. Assisting the teacher in modeling reading and listening to your child daily is a plus for everyone.
When you take the time to build a strong, positive parent/teacher relationship the benefits are endless and immeasurable. Make a commitment today to get involved in your child’s education.
Deborah Herrington has been an educator for 30 years and is the Montessori Teacher Certification Instructor at Collin College and the Head of School at Montessori Episcopal School in Lewisville, TX.