Building Strong Parent-Teacher Relationships
Parents are their child’s first and most influential teachers. But who comes in at a close second? School teachers! When parents and teachers come together to support children, the results are inspiring.
As a teacher, I felt supported by parents who trusted me. Their trust empowered me to do my best teaching. These parents also knew that they could come to me with any information, questions, or suggestions. Because we had built a respectful relationship, we were able to communicate easily and solve problems together. The strength of our alliance allowed us join forces to support my students.
So how do you build a strong relationship with your child’s educator? Use these ideas to help.
Trust. Teachers are trained professionals who want the best for your child. People go into teaching because they love to nurture kids and help them realize their potential. Every educator meets the needs of the many diverse learners in their classes on a daily basis. This perspective is helpful to keep in mind if you have concerns about what’s going on in your child’s classroom. Before voicing concern, take a moment to acknowledge the teacher’s training and experience. When you come from a place of understanding, educators will be more receptive to your feedback.
Ask questions. Just because you are trying to build trust doesn’t mean you’ll always agree with teachers’ actions. As with any relationship, parent-teacher exchanges are vulnerable to miscommunications. Be sure to ask questions and approach your child’s classroom experience with curiosity. Word your inquiries so they give educators a chance to explain the reasoning behind their decisions (“Can you explain your thinking behind the class seating arrangement?”) rather than being accusatory (“Why do you have those kids sit in the back of the classroom when they’re just goofing off back there?”).
Don’t believe everything you hear. It’s worrisome when your child comes home talking about how he was called names at school and the teacher just stood by letting it happen. However, before you go running into the classroom for a confrontation, take the time to consider what both sides of the story may be. Maybe the teacher talked with the other children away from your kid, or didn’t hear the conversation. Before you jump to conclusions, take a step back and ask your child’s educator about what happened. Voice your concerns, listen to the other side of the story, and work together to come up with a solution.
Get to know each other. Guess what? Teachers have lives outside of school (shocking, I know). Embracing your child’s educator as a three-dimensional person with interests outside of the classroom can go a long way. Ask what happened over the weekend, about favorite hobbies, and about close family members. Don’t forget to share a bit about yourself too; relationships flourish as people get to know each other.
Offer to help. Teachers have a job that is simultaneously incredibly hard and incredibly rewarding. One of the greatest ways to build a positive relationship is to offer to help your child’s educator. If it’s hard for you to make it into the classroom, see if there’s something you can do at home. Even if you’re not taken up on your offer, your efforts help build a collaborative spirit.
Above all, tell teachers that you’re thankful for them. Teaching can be exhausting, but words of appreciation go a long way to keep teachers inspired. When parent-teacher relationships flourish, the bridge from home to school strengthens and kids reap the rewards. Plus, who knows? Maybe you’ll make a friend while you’re at it.