Talking to Your Child’s Teacher
It’s important to establish a healthy discourse with your child’s teacher: you’ll get insight into your child’s performance in school and ensure that he is being educated properly. If your relationship with your child’s teacher isn’t as good as it could be, use these articles, tips, and resources to improve parent-teacher communication and create a winning team for your child.
Getting to Know the Teacher
When selecting a preschool, consider these factors: safety, cleanliness, general curriculum, overall philosophy, cost, and location. Try to meet the teacher before making your selection and make an appointment to visit the classroom. Watch how the teacher interacts with the kids, talk with the teacher, and ask questions.
While in the classroom, pay attention to how the teacher runs the class and how the children respond to his or her direction. If the kids seem happy and interact well with the teacher, chances are good that the teacher’s classroom style will be a fit for your child as well.
How to work with your child’s teacher to help him in school.
She’s the other adult in your child’s life. He has almost as much influence over your children as you do, in some cases more. Your child’s teacher is a vital part of your child’s education and a big part of his life.
Getting to know your child’s teacher and keeping lines of communication open are as important to your child’s schooling as studying for quizzes and turning in homework.
Whether it’s at a scheduled parent teacher conference or a private meeting set up to discuss your child, you can form a relationship with your child’s teacher through communication.
Here are seven tips for talking to teachers.
1. Meet your child’s teachers early. Back to School Nights and Parents’ Open Houses in the fall are often group settings that don’t allow you to make personal contact with your child’s teachers.
After the first few weeks of school, call or email your child’s teachers and ask for quick sit-down, just to introduce yourself. Most teachers, as busy as they are, don’t mind meeting personally with parents for a short conference. Here you can address early anything about your child you want his teachers to know.
The more contact you have with your child’s teacher the better. Getting involved in a volunteer opportunity at school will bring a closer relationship between you and your child’s teacher.
2. Show up for offered conferences. If your child’s school has optional parent-teacher conferences, schedule one, whether or not your child is having a problem.
Teachers appreciate meeting the parents of their non-problem students, too! Having met your child’s teachers face to face will give you a better perspective when your child talks about his school day.
3. Don’t be intimidating. Remember teachers are around youngsters all day. They’re likely to be more intimidated by you than you are by them. If you are meeting with your child’s teacher, whether at a scheduled conference or just a conversation you’ve asked for, remember that you’re both adults who want the best for your child.
4. Arrive prepared. Before the conference jot down a few points you want to cover, questions you want to ask, and concerns you have. The teacher will see this as a sign that you are taking the meeting seriously.
Talk to your child before your meeting with his teacher. Ask him if there’s anything he’d like you to bring up.
Your conversation with your child’s teacher is a two-way street. You’re there to get information about your child’s education, and also to provide the teacher with information about your child, his home life, special needs and circumstances that can help her teach him better.
5. Take notes. Take a paper and pencil in with you and be prepared to take notes. After the conference, immediately talk to your child about the meeting and what was said.
6. Don’t be defensive. If the teacher brings up problems your child is having, don’t be quick to offer excuses and don’t get defensive. Ask questions, ask for specific examples of the problem and then ask what you can do at home to help.
7. Start out with a positive. If you are bringing up complaints about your child’s teacher, don’t start off the conference with a negative. Bring up one or two examples of his or her teaching that you’re happy with. Then approach the negative. Try not to nitpick or make your complaints too personal. Emphasize why you feel it’s not best for your child. Don’t let your emotions or anger take over the conversation.
According to the National Education Association’s tips for parents, the best parent teacher conferences are those in which both parent and teacher stay calm and try hard to work together to help the child do well. “Arguing or blaming each other for problems your child is having, helps no one.”
Building a Relationship
It’s important to form a good relationship with your child’s preschool teacher — for both you and your child. Approach the teacher with an open mind and clear, direct questions, so that you can be a part of your child’s preschool experience and take pride in your little one’s achievements.
Remember to also share praise — both yours and your child’s — with the teacher, as well as his or her supervisor (“My child really enjoys storytime,” for example). This approach not only makes the teacher feel appreciated, but also creates a positive framework that makes it easier for teachers to receive any negative feedback in a constructive way.
Think of yourself and your child’s teacher as a team whose shared goal is to help make your child’s preschool experience a happy and productive one.