Teacher – parent relationships are crucial in education. When you think about it, your child spends just as much time with their teachers as they do with you (and in some cases much more) in an average school year. Building the parent-teacher dynamic is essential for educational success.
When kids figure out that the teacher-parent relationship is non-existent, fractured or broken they take advantage of it: they play one off the other, mis-communicate messages and play games. Sometimes, a teacher-parent relationship that is problematic can also cause the student to struggle with their learning.
How can parents ensure that they build a meaningful relationship with their children’s teachers? Really, it’s pretty simple. It comes down to the same criteria necessary for any functional relationship: communication and mutual respect.
Let’s start with the basics: communication is the key to building any relationship. Here are some tips regarding positive communication to establish a meaningful relationship.
- Make sure that all of your updated communication information is made available so that teacher-parent communication is easy (also identify which method of communication is preferred).
- Email or call once a month to check in regarding progress.
- Attend parent teacher interviews or make an alternate meeting if you can’t make it.
- Drop by the school in September and introduce yourself (if time allows).
- Ensure communication is always respectful, school appropriate and focused on your child (i.e. your child’s teacher doesn’t need or want to know about your personal life).
The next topic is a tough one in terms of teacher-parent relationships. For some reason over the past decade, respect for teachers has dwindled. Really, mutual respect isn’t something that is tough to master; it comes down to a couple simple actions.
- Don’t speak poorly of your child’s teacher in front of them; how will they be able to learn from someone they know their parents don’t respect or trust? If you do disagree with something, bring it up with the teacher in private – away from little ears.
- Follow through with classroom expectations at home. This includes: the expectations of regular attendance, homework and due dates. Don’t call (or email) to make excuses or lie for your child if they cannot follow through with these expectations – this shows that you don’t respect the rules of the classroom that your child should abide by for educational success.
- Trust that your child’s teacher has their best interests at heart. If they call you to discuss an issue (positive or negative) believe their observations and take them seriously. Also, discuss with the teacher the appropriate actions to take together to remedy the problem.
- Tell your child that you and their teacher communicate regularly and that similar expectations exists at home and school. This will foster a ‘united front’ and will create consistency at home and school.
Let’s face it, you may not like your child’s teacher. You may even dislike them. But you’re going to be stuck with them for the next 10 months, so you have a decision to make: build a functional relationship and support your child’s education or draw battle lines and put your child in the middle of very uncomfortable situation that could seriously impact their education this school year. I’m not saying you need to be BFF’s, but building some kind of functional relationship is crucial to your child’s educational success.
What’s your experience with building teacher-parent relationships? Share your strategies and tips below!