Your child has probably had some teachers you loved—and some you didn't like so well, for whatever reason. But, you know you need to foster good parent-teacher relationships with your children's teachers, whether you like them or not.
That cooperative relationship will do wonders for your child. And, remember, the teacher likely has your child's best interests at heart. She wants your child to have a successful school year.
Read on for tips on how to get along and make the year a success.
Give your teacher a chance.
Sure, Joey's mom may have thought Mrs. Smith was obnoxious. But that was five years ago. Form your own opinion of the teacher and don't bash her in front of your child. Give the teacher the benefit of the doubt and a chance to prove herself. And realize that every parent's and child's experiences with a teacher differ.
Attend events and pitch in.
Do your best to attend the orientation, open house, conferences and other events—and be on time. It's the best way to get important information about your child's education. If you're too busy or not crafty enough to be the class mom, you can still help in other ways. Maybe you're a writer and can chat with the class about how you got started. Or donate a case of water for field day. And no one says mom has to do it all. Send in your husband, grandma, grandpa or other family member or caregiver to chaperone a class field trip or oversee a holiday party. Your child will likely be grateful to have a familiar face present, and the teacher will appreciate the help.
Show your appreciation.
Is your daughter excited that she's been learning about the presidents? Share your feedback with the teacher. Send her an occasional card or note thanking her for all her hard work educating your child. Aim to mention something specific like how special she treated your daughter on her birthday. A little praise and insightful information goes a long way. Everyone likes to be acknowledged and hear positive comments.
Communicate what's happening at home.
Let your teacher know if anything serious is happening at home that may affect your child. For example, fill her in if a baby is on the way, you're moving, you're going through a divorce, or someone is battling a serious illness or has died. These changes may affect your child's behavior in class or make him sad, stressed or frustrated. Also, let her know if your child has any fears or problems, like he gets scared by loud noises or needs some help opening his yogurt at lunchtime. Giving your teacher the heads-up on these issues will help her prevent any situations that may make your child feel uncomfortable or embarrassed.
Realize that teachers are people, too.
Maybe she overslept or battled traffic on the way to work. Teachers are human and have good days and bad days. Cut them some slack if they don't seem to be on their A game once in a while.
Don't go above the teacher.
If you can avoid it, don't "tattle" on your teacher to the principal. Instead, go straight to the teacher about the issue at hand. Speak to her calmly and politely. Then, listen to her side of the story. She likely knows more about the situation than someone at a higher level. And the issue will get resolved quicker if fewer people get involved.
Respect the teacher's time.
Many teachers like to communicate via email. But don't expect an immediate response if you shoot a line to discuss an issue during a school vacation, over the weekend or late at night. Teachers have families of their own, too. And remember that during the day, they have little time to respond because they're busy teaching your child. Also, realize that they have many other students and parents whose concerns may be more pressing than yours. So, your note may not be their top priority.
Accept the fact that you're on the same team.
If the teacher tells you that your child is struggling to get along with peers, don't get defensive and immediately side with your child. The teacher is only looking out for your child and is on your side, wanting what's best for him. Keep an open mind and listen to the teacher's perspective. You might consider volunteering in the classroom for even 30 minutes to witness an issue—like his inability to share—in action.
Get involved after hours.
Your teacher isn't the only one actively participating in your child's education; you need to do so at home, too. If you are asked to read for 15 minutes a night or review spelling words for the weekly test, be sure to do so. Otherwise, you may hold your child back in these subjects. And check your child's backpack nightly. Sign any forms, permission slips or notices and return them to the teacher on time so she doesn't have to keep asking for them.