Notes on Parenting

Insights for parenting babies, toddlers, teens, and young adults.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Tips for Cultivating a Working Relationship with Your Child’s Teacher

by: Dyan Eybergen BA, RN, ACPI

Working With the Teacher to Promote Positive Learning Experiences
When parents and their child’s teacher cultivate a relationship of mutual respect and cooperation, it is the child who benefits.

With the first month of school underway, now is an ideal time for parents to assess just how well their children are adjusting to the school routine and its curriculum. Should any problems be detected there is still a sufficient amount of time left in the term to address a child’s specific needs and get him/her the help he/she needs.

In today’s school environment, with a demanding curriculum, restricted budgets and limited teacher resources and assistance, teachers are often overwhelmed by the prospect of talking with a parent who is less than happy with regards to the child’s progress. Teachers feel powerless in their efforts to assist every child. Raising issues with teachers in the spirit of cooperation can go a long way in helping to set a child up for success.

How to Communicate With a Child’s Teacher
If it hasn’t been done already, parents should make arrangements to meet with their child’s teacher. Introductions are important to open communication. The parents should indicate their desire to be involved in their child’s education. Asking for suggestions for how they can best support the school’s learning environment at home is a cooperative approach that will open the door to a respectful relationship between the parent and the teacher. A teacher will be most grateful to parents who reinforce their efforts to sustain learning for their students.

How to Address Problems
Ask the child’s teacher how he/she would prefer to be contacted: by phone, email or in writing should problems arise. Parents should also inform the teacher how they can be reached, and convey the fact that they want to be advised if their child is struggling academically or socially at school. Inviting open communication about their child will help a teacher feel a sense of cohesiveness. The teacher will get the message that the parents are willing to work together as a team to ensure the success of their child’s school experience. If a problem does exist, parents should approach the teacher as a team player by asking how parents and teacher can work together to solve it. Blaming the teacher for a child’s difficulties will only provoke a defensive reaction and does not lend itself to finding a solution to helping a child.

How Parents can Help Teachers Know Their Children
Parents know their children best. Parents have specific information that will benefit their child’s teacher in terms of how that teacher will relate to their child. What is the child’s learning style? Is the child more of a visual learner than an auditory one? Does the child get anxious before having to write a test? Does the child appear overwhelmed if there are too many questions written on one page?
Are there strategies the parents have implemented at home that will give the child’s teacher insight into managing the child’s classroom needs? Anything a parent can tell a child’s teacher about how their child learns will promote positive interactions between the teacher and the child.

How Parents can Help Their Children in the Classroom
Parents should let a child’s teacher know of anything that may be going on that would cause the child’s behaviour or academic performance to suddenly change. Is there a pending divorce? Has mom or dad just lost a job? Is mom away on an extended business trip? Did the family pet just pass away? Is the child being bullied? A teacher’s compassion and understanding through such circumstances can prevent an emotionally struggling child from feeling alienated by school, especially when school may be the child’s only refuge if things at home are not going so well.

Parents need to inform the teacher of their child’s strengths and weaknesses. Parents should develop goals with their child based on the child’s strengths and inform the teacher of what those strong suits are. Notifying the teacher of areas of improvement they are working on with their child at home can also be helpful. A teacher who can easily recognize the strengths and needs of a child can more readily set realistic expectations for that child’s academic development.

The Benefits of a Working Parent-Teacher Relationship
Disagreements between parents and their child’s teacher may be unavoidable at times. If parents can approach these situations believing that the teacher wants their child to succeed in school just as much as they do, it will help them to find ways to amicably work together to ensure the child’s academic achievement. Letting the disagreement become bigger than the objective of ensuring school success for a child will only serve injustice to the child. A child can only thrive in an environment that is conducive to his/her learning style and strengths. Parents have that information and teachers know how to use it to the child’s learning advantage. It’s imperative then that parents and teachers develop working relationships that benefit the children whom they are all helping to prepare for the future.




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