5 Things You Should Know: How to Talk to Your Child's Teacher

Maintain clear lines of communication with your child's teacher using these tips.
Maintain clear lines of communication with your child's teacher using these tips.
TLC

There's no right or wrong way to go about developing a relationship with your child's teacher as long as you approach the partnership with respect. When your child sees you and his or her teacher as partners it can ease stress and help with successful learning.

Along with the following five tips, the best advice we can give is to have open and ongoing communication with your child's teacher throughout the year. This can lead to more successes for your kid and make any problems more manageable.

#5 - Prepare

One of the best things you can do before talking to your child's teacher is to prepare. Think of it as a business meeting and you're bringing the agenda. Ask the teacher how they prefer to be contacted. Many teachers do use email but parents should take advantage of whatever the teacher has set up: email, phone, school hours, Web site, etc.

Understand that many teachers don't have a lot of time for extra one-on-one meetings with parents, especially at the beginning of the year or during report card time, so using your agenda and keeping the conversation focused will truly help.

Find a time that's convenient for both of you: not usually drive-by meetings during pick up and drop off times, in the middle of the day or in the grocery store. Be on time, be prepared with questions and stories, and walk away with a plan. Parents should expect teachers to be experts in their field but need remember they're human too. Many teachers are also parents who've been on the other side of the table.

#4 - Trust

Having a positive relationship with your child's teacher can help your child be more successful in the classroom. Parents should expect their child's teacher to hold shared information confidential, and should be confident in discussing cognitive and social development, as well as family events, with him or her.

Trust that even if you disagree or have different styles of communication, you both have a commitment to the child. Be fair, but in situations where you feel you don't have a parent-teacher partnership, or that the teacher isn't producing results, seek out the counsel of the school administration for tips or help

#3 - Share

Just as you expect your child's teach to share important events that happen during the school day, your child's teacher wishes you'd reciprocate. Mutual disclosure is important in this partnership.

Share insights into your child's interests, needs, strengths and personality. If you have areas of concern, be honest about that with your child's teacher. Communication should be both positive and negative -- don't be afraid to share important events in kids' lives (such as divorce or a new sibling) but also remember to share the funny stories too. All these things can affect how your child's days go.

#2 - Be Informed

Informed parents know what's happening in the classroom. They know the teacher, the kids, the whole cast of characters and the rules of the classroom. Some of the easiest ways to stay informed about what's going on in the classroom is to read newsletters, the classroom's Web page and any notes sent home. And, of course, stay on top of your child's homework assignments.

Teachers have varying levels of accessibility but all are accessible (some are available during after school hours, some have been known to give our their home phone numbers). Keep informed and keep in touch.

#1 - Participate

In addition to being a well-informed parent, be a parent who participates. Make an effort to meet your child's teacher early in the year, if only to introduce yourself. Throughout the year you and your child's teacher will have opportunities to meet at parent-teacher conferences and school events -- be sure to attend all parent-teacher meetings as these are sometimes the only one-on-ones you'll have together.

Ask what you can do to be involved. For example, being a volunteer for classroom activities is just another way to stay connected and informed. Accompany a field trip, join the Parent Teacher Association (PTA), help organize a classroom party or donate time or resources to the classroom or grade.