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6 Tips for Strengthening Parent-Teacher Relationships

6 Tips for Strengthening Parent-Teacher Relationships

As you’re getting your child ready for the new school year, you may be soon realizing how the back-to-school season isn’t just for youngsters but is for parents too! This is especially the case as you prepare to meet and build a relationship with your child’s new teachers this year. Any working relationship requires some finesse in navigating, so we asked the Edmentum team, many of whom are former teachers, for any tips that would be helpful for strengthening parent-teacher relationships. Here is a list that summarizes some of their responses:

1. Stay in touch regularly

Communication is key when it comes to helping your child succeed. You and your child’s teacher are partners in your child's education, and you can be a powerful team when you work together. Be sure to attend parent-teacher conferences to stay up to date on your child's progress at school. Offering up information that may be useful to the teacher will also help with instruction, such as anything that’s going on at home or any other changes that you noticed as a parent, as there may be many external factors in your child's life that could affect his or her learning.

2. Ask questions

There are no stupid questions! Teachers appreciate your involvement and eagerness to understand, so be sure to lay out whatever issues or questions you may have. If you're not sure about something your child has shared with you, check in with the teacher, as there may be times your child misheard or misunderstood something the teacher said. Sending a quick email to your child's teacher can definitely help clear the air.

3. Ask how to support the teacher

Let's face it. Teachers do a lot. They're trying to teach and care for many students who are at many different levels of learning all at once; they're trying to make their lessons fun, creative, and engaging; they’re having to play multiple roles (including counselor, coach, custodian, and cheerleader); and some are even having to leave the school day to work another job because the pay just isn't enough. Teachers do what they do because they're passionate about it, but they could use a little help here and there. Reaching out to offer help with anything can really support and encourage your child's teacher. Even little things like volunteering time in the classroom or helping tidy and organize classroom materials can make a big difference.

4. Be willing to set emotions aside

Sometimes, it's difficult for parents to receive critical feedback about their child and not take it as a personal reflection of themselves or their parenting. But, again, your child's teacher is your ally and partner in shaping your child’s growth, and the teacher can provide some valuable insight into or tips for helping your child academically. Reserve your judgment when listening to your child's teacher, and be willing to hear an alternative point of view about your child. Keep in mind that it's also difficult for your child's teacher to bring up things! Help make the process easier for teachers by listening attentively and patiently to their feedback.

5. Communicate directly with the teacher before escalating issues

If you're facing a disagreement with your child's teacher, it may be tempting to go straight to the administration to discuss the issue. However, that could cause unnecessary tension with your child's teacher. Before escalating anything, communicate with your child’s teacher, using email at the very least. That may end up resolving or clearing up the situation before it grows bigger.

6. Offer grace

Although teaching is an incredibly rewarding job, it's also incredibly challenging. Extend some grace to your child’s teachers for mistakes made or things overlooked. Be understanding if your child’s teacher is not that perfect teacher who can anticipate every need and issue that comes up in the classroom. Teachers will appreciate your compassion!

As one of our team members, Wendy, put it best: “I always like to remind parents and teachers that we are all on the same team. We both want what’s best for the student, but we might just differ on the methods to get there.”

Interested in learning more ways to foster a positive relationship with your child’s teacher this year? Check out these five questions all parents should ask their child’s educators!

This post was originally published August 2019 by Elaine Ho and has been updated.