One of the keys to a successful academic experience for children is a productive and supportive relationship between parents and teachers. Here are a few key points for parents to consider in helping to nurture and maintain such relationships:
Communication is key. Introduce yourself early on in the school year and let teachers know the best way to contact you. If you have any concerns about your child’s school performance or behaviour, request a meeting or conference before the first parent-teacher conferences. Also, consider letting teachers know if there is something significant going on in your child’s life that may be impacting their presentation in school, such as a recent separation or death, health problems, etc.
Assume a collaborative stance. Teachers and school staff are more often than not extremely hard-working and dedicated individuals who devote significant time and energy to providing your children with the best possible education and care about their wellbeing. When problems arise for children in school, it is understandable that parents may feel stressed, angry or defensive. However, taking an attacking tone or stance will often make the problem worse and as such it is often helpful for parents to enter into dialogue with teachers and school staff with an open-mind, calm demeanour and a problem-solving mindset.
Show appreciation. Parents, bosses, spouses, etc are all guilty at times of giving significant attention to negative behaviours and forgetting to reinforce positive behaviours. Children and adults alike respond quite well to positive attention and appreciate being told when they doing a good job. That being said, if you notice a teacher doing something particularly helpful or effective with your child, a simple “thank you” goes a long way!
Get involved. It is not a new notion that volunteering in a child’s school can be a very effective way for parents to become well-acquainted with their child’s school and show support for the school staff. While some parents are able to volunteer on a regular basis, other parents are able to volunteer for a specific project, activity or trip with the school.
Support your child’s education. It is important to know the expectations of your child and to familiarize yourself with their curriculum. Although children are primarily responsible for completing their homework, it is important for parents, especially of younger children, to provide oversight for homework completion and to be familiar with important test and project dates.
Be prepared for parent-teacher conferences. Talk to your child in advance of meeting with their teacher(s) to find out how they think they are doing and if they have any concerns. Have as much information as you can about your child’s school performance including homework completion, subjects in which they are thriving or struggling and any peer concerns. Prepare a list of questions for your child’s teacher in advance which can include whether your child is meeting behavioural and academic expectations if they are completing all assignments and how your child compares to others in basic skills. If your child is struggling in any area it can be helpful to ask what has been tried to address the issue thus far and if there is anything you can do to help support your child at home, including any materials or resources that they would recommend.