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A Teacher’s Perspective: How Parents Can Help

Friday, September 25, 2015 -- Scott Sterling

Education is a team effort, and a child’s chances of success are greatly improved when teachers and parents work together effectively. Here is one teacher’s take on how parents can best support their child’s time at school.

Communication is key

Teachers understand that things crop up and calendars grow full, both at school and at home. This can make regular, effective communication between parents and teachers a challenge. One great preemptive strategy is to share your preferred mode of communication with your child’s teachers. If teachers know that you want to hear from them and have been made aware of a way to do so that guarantees a response, you’re more likely to receive updates. And these updates will not be limited to your child’s struggles or challenges—teachers love to share their students’ successes as well! Open the lines of communication even further by asking teachers about their preferences as well.

Accept feedback about your child—positive or negative

It may be difficult to hear negative feedback about your child from a teacher, particularly if similar trials are wearing on you at home. However, every teacher wants to see their students be successful in class. So, when your child’s teachers come to you with a challenge or concern, keep in mind that their only agenda is to offer some constructive feedback and open a dialogue to remedy the situation.

Work as a team

If your child does have problems in the classroom during the school year, approach it in a way that you and the teacher are on the same team. Talk with the teacher about what solutions can be created and what behaviors need to be changed or encouraged. Then, make sure that your child is being held to the same expectations, both at school and at home. It is also important to think about the broader team available to enlist if your child is experiencing academic or behavioral problems. Is there a favorite prior teacher or other staff member that you and your child’s classroom teacher could work with to provide additional support? Are there other family members who could help, such as a grandparent, aunt, uncle, or older sibling that they look up to? Surrounding your child with this type of support and consistency is critical to bringing about real change.

Offer your suggestions

Teachers aren’t autocrats, and like everyone else, teachers appreciate helpful suggestions from time to time. If you have an idea, especially about things that could improve how your child performs in class, speak up. If possible, make an effort to spend some time in your child’s classroom or school to get a taste for what’s actually going on before offering your feedback. Volunteering to help with a class party, reading to the class, or simply running copies is always welcome. Not only does this give you the chance to experience school life as your child does, but it also helps you make a friend in your child’s teachers—and, in turn, make them that much more receptive to your suggestions.

Rally the other parents

In many schools, parents communicate with each other more than they communicate with teachers. It can be really helpful to teachers if one or two parents step up to handle regular communication duties, like updating the class’ social media pages. Parents can also take the lead in efforts like coordinating classroom volunteers or helping plan classroom events. For teachers, this kind of grassroots effort is more effective (and less stressful!) than having to leave voicemails or send emails to get parents involved.

Keep teachers in the loop

Your personal life is your own business, and some things should simply be left at home. However, personal events can also help explain sudden shifts in your child’s behavior at school. So, if your home situation has changed—such as a death or illness in the family or any other impactful problem that has come up—give your child’s teachers a heads-up if at all possible. Teachers care deeply about their students; your child’s teachers will be happy to do whatever they can to help your child work through the challenge.

Looking for more tips on how you can make the school day go smoothly for both your child and their teacher? Check out the National Parent Teacher Association’s resource on 10 Ways for Parents to Help Teachers! You can also take a look at Edmentum’s blog on the 5 Questions All Parents Should Ask Their Child’s Educators!