Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Building a Successful Partnership With Your Child’s Teacher

On the National PTA’s list of Top 10 Things Teachers Wish Parents Would Do, “be involved” ranks number one. Studies show that parental involvement has a major impact on a child’s academic success. To support your child effectively, strive to develop a cooperative relationship with his or her teacher using the following three-pronged approach:

1.) Open the Lines of Communication

* Give the teacher your contact information at the beginning of the school year, and welcome the teacher to contact you for any reason. If you don’t have a chance to meet the teacher at parent orientation, send a brief note or e-mail.

* Find out how the teacher prefers to communicate, whether by written note, e-mail or phone, so you can ensure a quick response to your future questions and concerns.

* Volunteer your time. Offer to come into the class to share information about your culture, career or interests if they are relevant to the curriculum. Offer to assist the teacher with administrative duties, project preparation or other useful tasks.

2.) Maintain the Home-School Connection

* Get involved. Volunteer with your school’s PTA to support your child’s teacher and school.

* Stay informed. Set aside time to read the notices, newsletters and progress reports the teacher sends home. Visit the teacher’s website and the school’s website regularly.

* Communicate with your child. Ask your child if he or she handed in yesterday’s homework assignments and studied for upcoming tests. Look over the homework to make sure it’s high quality.

3.) Tackle Problems Constructively

* Approach the teacher as soon as you detect a problem. If you have a concern, your child’s teacher will want to know about it so he or she can address the issue.

* Don’t contact the principal or another administrator instead of the teacher. This approach conveys to the teacher that you don’t respect him or her as a professional, which will damage your relationship going forward. In addition, the principal is probably going to refer you to the teacher or get the teacher involved.

* Adopt the right attitude. In a professional and respectful manner, explain your point of view and ask the teacher for his or her perspective. For example, you can say, “This is what I’m noticing…. What’s your take on the situation.”

* Listen to the teacher’s viewpoint. The teacher offers an important perspective because he or she observes and interacts with your child in an academic setting.

* Give the teacher your input. Tell the teacher what you know about your child’s past academic experiences and behavior that will help the teacher serve your child better.

* Value the teacher’s recommendation. Parents are experts on their children, but teachers are experts in the field of education.

* Offer to be part of the solution. Ask the teacher what you can do at home to help support what the teacher is doing in the classroom.

* Remember, the teacher is your ally, not your adversary. Your child’s teacher is on your side and shares your goal: the academic success of your child.

If you have any questions, feel free to e-mail me at Please check back next week to read my article on effective strategies teachers can implement to build successful partnerships with parents.

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