If you want your child to have a good relationship with his teacher, start by developing one yourself.
- Step 1: Take time to attend all parent-teacher conferences, especially the one at the start of the new school year. If there is no such introductory meeting, arrange one.
- Step 2: Ask the teacher questions that signal your sincere interest in school activities, such as what material will be covered during year, her position on homework, and what her feeling is on parental involvement in special projects.
- TIP: Bring a pen and paper so you can take notes.
- Step 3: End the meeting by emphasizing that you are very interested in your child’s education and would like to be kept informed of his progress, especially if there are concerns or problems.
- Step 4: Get involved in your child’s school—join the PTA, volunteer to work in the school library, chaperone a school dance or field trip. Sucking up to the teacher never hurts!
- Step 5: Nip problems in the bud. If you can see that your child is struggling with a subject or having social problems, don’t wait for the next scheduled parent-teacher conference; contact the teacher right away.
- TIP: Write down your concerns before talking with the teacher; you don’t want to forget a key point because you’re upset.
- Step 6: Ask the teacher what you can do to help solve whatever problems arise—after all, you know your child best. The teacher should want to work with you to resolve problems, but remember that her first obligation is to teach all her students—not to take orders from parents.
- Step 7: Always be polite—even if you’re convinced the teacher is in the wrong. Your goal is to help your child, and that is less likely to happen if you adopt a take-no-prisoners attitude.
- Step 8: Track your communication with the teacher to help you remember what you’ve agreed and what steps you’re each going to take. This will make it easier to follow-up and give you both a clear plan and timeline.
- Step 9: Imagine that someone thanked you for being such a spectacular parent—wouldn’t you be inclined to think they were pretty great, too? Let your child’s teacher know if you think she’s doing a good job… and if you don’t, well, try to acknowledge something that you do appreciate. Maybe it’ll foster the start of something better.
- FACT: A survey of 1,000 parents found that only 34% communicate regularly with their child’s teacher, and most often it is done by phone.