Parent Teacher Communication - Tips for Creating a Strong Parent Teacher Relationship

Parent teacher communication is essential to your child's success in school. Below are some important suggestions to help you create a strong parent teacher relationship that will serve your child's best interests. The hidden perk is that it will also make things and easier and more enjoyable for you and your child's teacher.

  • Parents and teachers must agree to serve the same purpose which means serving the best interests of the child and the class as a whole. For instance, if a child's behavior disrupts the class, the parent and teacher can work together (from different fronts) to help the child express his needs in a way that serves him, the teacher and the class.

    Parent teacher communication should be focused on the best interests of the child.

  • Parents and teachers must make a commitment to know the child. Socrates said, "Know thyself." I say, "Know the child." A child is much more than the sum of his behavior, his test scores or the grades on his report card. A child is a living being who has needs, hopes, interests and dreams. In order for parents and teachers to bring up a well-rounded individual, they must take the time to see who the child is, to draw forth what is inside and treat him with respect. (For more on this, read my book, Keepers of the Children)

  • Parents must give teachers insights into their child's character, strengths, interests, needs and areas of concern. After all, the parent should know the child better than the teacher. To achieve this end, a teacher may send home a questionnaire at the beginning of the year which is designed to elicit this information. The answers help a teacher get to know the child, while revealing how the parent views her child and whether she acknowledges his strengths and is aware of areas of concern. Although this information can be helpful, the teacher needs to create her own relationship with the child that is based on her observations and interactions with the child.

  • Parents should discuss answers on the questionnaire with their child and set goals together, particularly with regard to pursuing areas of interest and improving skills that will help their child succeed in school and in life.

  • Parent teacher communication depends upon mutual disclosure. A parent must be willing to mention when there are struggles at home that might affect the child's ability to get along with others or dampen his enthusiasm for learning. Although parents may not choose to disclose personal details, it is important to alert the teacher when a child is experiencing undue stress at home. Teachers can use this information to provide empathy, support and guidance to a child who may not be getting all his needs met. Of course, disclosures should not be viewed as excuses for poor child behavior, but as a way for parents and teachers to work together for the benefit of the child.

    Parent teacher communication is dependent upon mutual disclosure.

  • In the same vein, teachers must keep parents informed about what is happening at school. For instance, if a child is humiliated in front of the class while giving a report or is often taunted by his peers, parents need to know, so they can give the child support at home and teach him coping strategies and come-backs. (Of course, parents should create an open dialogue with their children, so they already know what is going on.) Keeping the lines of communication open so that parent and teacher can have a bigger perspective about what is happening in the life of the child creates a supportive network that benefits everyone involved.

  • The parent teacher relationship is dependent on establishing a regular means for communication. Many teachers are accessible at school (and some even give out their home numbers), via email or school web sites. Find a way to communicate with your child's teacher on a regular basis, even if it means you have to use a payphone. If your child is struggling at school, either with homework or relationships with peers, be proactive and work with the teacher to create a two-pronged approach which encourages the child to discover ways to solve the problem using the guidance at home and school.

    Establish a regular means of parent teacher communication.

  • Familiarize yourself with the school policies and rules specific to a teacher's class. Talk these over with your child, so he has a clear understanding of expectations for performance and guidelines for acceptable behavior. Although I have encountered a few school policies that were designed less to protect the children than to protect the school against a lawsuit, help your child understand the rules and how they contribute to a safe environment in which students can learn and interact positively with others. If your child understands how a rule benefits everyone, he is more likely to respect it.

    Parent teacher communication tip: send your child's teacher a note of appreciation for all she does.

  • Teachers often hear from parents only when there are complaints or conflicts. On occasion, send your child's teacher a note or email to tell how much you value his or her influence in your child's life. Since teacher's can be flooded with unwanted gifts during the holidays and on Teacher Appreciation Day, I think a note is more appropriate. Although teachers are paid for what they do, the best among them contribute far more to the children than their job description requires. Acknowledge and inspire teachers with your recognition and support.

    Parent teacher communication is paramount to your child's success at school.

  • Create a strong parent teacher relationship by volunteering. Although many parents have to work, ask your boss if you can have some flex time once per month to volunteer or chaperone on field trips. If your children are anything like mine, they'll be tickled when you help out at school. In addition to supporting the teacher, you'll get to observe the dynamics of the class and get to know the cast of characters.

It takes a village to raise a child who is healthy, caring, and responsible. In school, this village starts with the network formed by parents, teachers and administrators who understand that their job is to work together to support and guide the development of each child.

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