Parents and teachers have a relationship that can be great, terrible, or downright strange. Both parties are saddled with a very important task – the care and instruction of the next generation – and neither party knows exactly what happens when they aren’t around. But whether you are a teacher or a parent, you understand that working together is the best way to support the children in both your lives. A great, cooperative relationship will nurture your children all the more, and help establish a love of learning in them that will last well into their higher education.
But how do you work with a teacher or a parent to ensure a child’s success? After all, you likely don’t see each other too often: a parent-teacher conference, the school’s open house, maybe a recital or two. That can seem like hardly enough time to establish a relationship of any type. This is why it is so important to seek out a relationship from the start of the school year and to foster it throughout the year. Here are a few tips to help all the parents and teachers out there work together from day one:
Communication is Key
A parent may never know that there is a problem in the classroom if the teacher doesn’t let them know. Similarly, a student is unlikely to share issues at home with his or her teacher. In order to help a student succeed, it is vital that parents and teachers communicate.
Teachers’ work emails are often readily available at the school’s main office, so parents should not be afraid to reach out to their children’s teachers. Teachers should be willing to reach out to a student’s parents if he or she is having a problem at school – and before that problem becomes detrimental to their future. Keeping the communication lines open will help both parent and teacher navigate the rocky terrain of raising and teaching a child.
Use Technology To Your Benefit
Parents: does your child’s school have a website? Visit it. Find out what resources are available to you and make sure you are taking full advantage of them. Apart from the teachers’ contact information that we mentioned above, many school websites are a wealth of information for parents looking to be involved. You can see the school’s schedule (never miss a spirit day or forget a half day again), sign ups for volunteer positions, and much more. In fact, some websites offer teachers their own pages, where they can publish grades, update parents on a child’s progress, and announce just what the students will be learning this week.
Teachers: does your school offer you a webpage for connecting with parents? Use it! Transparency can be incredibly useful when it comes to your classroom, because the more parents know, the more they can help you outside of school hours. Also, make sure that your student’s parents are aware of the resources your school offers online. You won’t believe how many parents have no idea what’s available to them – or how appreciative they will be to get a little announcement at Back to School Night.
You may think that the parent-teacher relationship fades out as students get older, particularly once they get into high school. With so many students shuffling in and out of the classroom each period, there’s no way a teacher has time to connect with every parent. With so many teachers for each student, parents can’t possibly reach out to every single one. And most importantly: these students aren’t kids, but young adults. Shouldn’t they be looking out for their own academic future by now?
To that we say one thing: have you met a teenager? Once your student enters the hallowed halls of high school (or even middle school), reaching out and connecting with teachers becomes even more important. Adolescence is a crucial, pivotal time in a person’s life, the final years before college and the “real world,” and an effective tag-team of parents and teachers can make all the difference for a struggling student. So parents, don’t stop reaching out to your children’s teachers. And teachers, don’t stop responding to parents that want to be involved. Between you both, you just might help the kids turn out alright.