How to Build a Relationship with Your Child's Teacher
Everything in my life as of late has been focused on back to school. Getting my first-grader ready for the new school year and getting all of the needed supplies. In the midst of the preparation, our school will be hosting an open house to welcome students (and parents) back to the new school year. With the prospect of my daughter meeting her new teacher for the upcoming school year on the horizon, I began to wonder about the relationship I would have with my daughter’s teacher too. I won’t see her teacher every day, yet I want to have a positive relationship so that if I need to reach out about something, the ability to do that is available. It seems that others have had similar thoughts about this too (great minds think alike and all). Below are some suggestions about how to build a positive relationship with your child’s teacher.
Reach out to your child’s teacher early in the school year. The New York Times suggests reaching out to your child’s teacher as early as is feasible in the school year. The beginning of the school year is a busy time for everyone, especially teachers. If there is important information you want your teacher to know about your child, it is really helpful to do this as soon as time allows. This first meeting can also be a time to ask your child’s teacher how they prefer to receive communications from you; in person, via email, or a phone call.
Help your child’s teacher get to know your child by sharing important information. During your child’s first week of school there will likely be many get-to-know you activities. If there are important things for your child’s teacher to know in order for your child to feel comfortable at school, sharing that information as soon as possible with the teacher will help your child’s teacher approach them in way that helps your child feel as comfortable as possible.
Ask questions when you have them. Knowing what your child’s day is like at school and what they are learning about can help you feel better prepared to ask your child questions and can also make it easier to understand their answers. If your child or your child’s teacher shares something that does not fully make sense, ask your child’s teacher about it. Gaining a deeper understanding of what your child is doing at school will hopefully make it easier for you to talk with and help support your child. It can also help your child feel as though the adults in their life are on the same page.
Remain curious. There might be times during different stages of your child’s academic career when you or your child does not agree with something (e.g., a rule, a grade, an assignment, etc.). Approaching things from a place of wonder, can help increase understanding while also allowing space for openness. If your child, for example, is asked to create a book for dogs and does not want to, for whatever reason; this could be a time to wonder why the teacher would ask them to create this book. You might wonder what the goal of the book is or what else the teacher said about the reason behind the book. This example, of course, is simplified and other real-life examples might be much more complicated.
Ask what your family can do at home to help. This can help build a sense of partnership since your family and your child’s teacher are a team, working together to help your child succeed. Starting a conversation about what at home can be helpful may also open the door for future conversations, since what occurs at home impacts school and vice versa. If you or your child’s teacher notices changes in your child’s behavior, having laid this groundwork may make it easier for both of you to reach out.
Depending on your child, all of the above suggestions may be important to follow so that a positive and collaborative relationship can be in place from the start. For other children, you, as a parent, may decide that some of these suggestions make sense and others don’t. You know your child best! Trust your instincts!
If you’re looking for more information, LDA recently shared a similar blog about working cooperatively with teachers to help your child succeed in school.