October’s right around the corner and you can be sure that any day now, one of those three-times-a-year parent-teacher conference slips will be appearing in your child’s backpack. Those forms have a way of snapping us into reality. “How is my child doing in school? What does the teacher think of my child…and me?” First semester is in full swing—here are 5 ways to help build a great parent-teacher relationship so that when you arrive at those conferences, you’re a step ahead of the game.
1. Communicate with your child’s teacher(s) often and early. Staying in touch with the person who spends the most time with your child outside of the home makes a lot of sense. You’ll learn the positive things about your son, and the areas where trouble might be lurking. These days, almost every teacher can be reached by email or just call the school’s office and ask for contact information.
2. Ask your daughter every day about her classes in an open-ended discussion. Avoid asking questions that she can brush off with a simple yes or no. Getting your child to open up about her daily life will often bring any underlying issues to the surface. Make sure you don’t judge what she says too harshly. Let her be honest.
3. Become involved in your child’s school to the best your schedule allows. Even busy parents can become active in their son’s school life. Volunteer to work an hour at a book fair, take a day off and chaperone a field trip. The memories you make can be well worth the missed day at work. If time is extremely tight, send a batch of cookies or cupcakes into class on your son’s birthday or other holiday. The idea is simply to let your child and his teacher know that you are actively involved with and excited about his school-life.
4. Send a note in with your little student right away if there is an issue with her homework, a project, or any other assignment. Teachers are not mind readers (although they are quite amazing people!) so they won’t know if your daughter is having trouble with her fraction homework unless your child speaks up or you communicate it to them. Heading off a question about a project or assignment early clears up a problem which could potentially snowball if your child ends up getting an “F” simply because she was not clear on how to structure her history report. A simple note written to the teacher also tells him that you care about your child’s success and he will likely go out of his way to clear up misunderstandings.
5. Check your kid’s backpack every single night. When it comes to school notices, memos, and assignments, ignorance is not bliss. Not finding a single permission slip on time can cause your daughter to miss out on a special event or field trip. You don’t want to accidently not find artwork, yearbook order forms, health notices, teacher notes, or fundraisers, do you? Going through your daughter’s backpack can even turn into a nightly bonding ritual and can open the doors for some great parent-child conversation. “Oh, Jessie, this cotton ball snowman is gorgeous!”
What good parent-teacher relationships really come down to are the same things that good parent-student relationships do. Open and timely communication and active involvement in your child’s school-life are ultimately the best way to help her succeed—and in the end, that’s what every teacher is really striving for.