Published on ADDitudeMag.com
11 Tips for Getting Your Child’s Teacher on Your Side
Teaming up with your child’s teacher can mean the difference between success and failure in the classroom.
By Eileen Bailey
Be a Team Player
child spends six hours a day, some 1,200 hours a year, in a classroom with his
teacher each year. When you and the teacher work together, your child will have
a positive and successful school experience – educationally and socially. It
takes effort, but make sure you establish a cooperative relationship with the
Start the Year Off Right
a good idea to initiate a conversation with your child’s new teacher. Some parents prefer to send a letter
introducing their child and giving information about their needs. Other parents
feel a face-to-face conversation is best. Touching base with your child’s
teacher early on lets her know you are caring and involved and will be a
cooperative partner if problems arise.
Keep It Positive
you are talking on the phone, emailing, or sitting face-to-face with your
child’s teacher, make sure communication is positive and upbeat. Attacking the
teacher makes her defensive, leaving her less willing to cooperate with you.
Focus on the fact that most teachers want to help and to see your child
Communicate at the Teacher’s Convenience
with your child’s teacher is much easier these days—emails, texts, phone calls,
updates on websites. Early in the year, talk with the teacher to find out which
method works best, so you can stay updated with what is going on in the
classroom and homework assignments. Email may work one week, text another. Also
determine with the teacher how often you should talk.
Do Not Take Things Personally
get defensive when a teacher recites their child’s faults. If the teacher tells
you your son is disruptive or doesn’t listen, empathize with her and work
together to find a solution. Agree that your child can be a handful and move
the conversation along to problem-solving.
Nip Problems in the Bud
realizing your child may fail a class with only a few weeks left in the
semester. Avoid this by getting involved early and asking to be notified of
problems right away. Set up a meeting with your child’s teacher during the
second or third week of school to talk this over. (The first week is usually
too hectic for a teacher.) This way, you can address missing work or poor
grades right away.
Share What Works
your child better than anyone and the classroom strategies that have worked for
him in the past. Sharing this information helps a new teacher better understand
how to reach and teach your child. Don’t focus on your child’s faults; discuss what
works. Instead of saying, “He doesn’t listen,” say, “I find when I make eye
contact when giving instructions, Jack listens better.”
you are meeting your child’s teacher for the first time, or attending a
parent-teacher conference, come prepared. Have a list of questions or concerns,
samples of homework papers and tests, notes from former teachers, and
accommodations that have worked. Keep the information in a binder to make it
easy to bring along and share. Once your meeting is over, write down notes to
add to your binder.
Show Up and Get Involved
often rely on volunteer help and parent involvement. Join the PTA, volunteer in
the classroom, office, or library, or chaperone a field trip. You can see how your
child acts in school firsthand and get to know other parents and school personnel.
You become an insider rather than an overbearing or demanding parent.
Resolve a Teacher Conflict
you and your child’s teacher can’t agree on a solution to a problem or a
teacher is not cooperating, ask what the next step should be instead of walking
away angry. You might suggest that the school psychologist, guidance counselor,
or principal be included in looking for a solution. Ask the teacher if she
would like to set up the meeting.
Take Advice from the Teacher
as you share information with the teacher, she can give tips on how to help
your child at home. Ask questions about his school performance and the areas in
which he is struggling. Ask for tips and materials you can use at home that
will help your child excel in school.
Show Your Appreciation
likes a compliment. If a child’s teacher does something a parent doesn’t agree
with, parents often shoot off an email or call to complain. How often do you
send an email to compliment the teacher or to say thank you for something she
has done or said? When your child’s teacher goes out of his way to understand
your child or help him feel accepted, make sure you show your gratitude.
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