Parent Teacher Communication

Parent teacher communication can be intimidating and uncomfortable. Find out how to open up the lines of communication.

So, you're a parent, and you feel that you've done a fantastic job of rearing your children, preparing them for the world, making sure they can throw a ball, they know their address and phone number. Now you need to hand them off to the experts. The educators and the classroom teachers.

Why is it that the very prospect of visiting with your child's teacher can leave you a shaky, sweaty, nervous wreck? Don't feel bad, you're not alone.

Many parents are instantly transported back in time to when they were students the second that they walk into their child's classroom. Teachers carry with them an air of authority, a command of respect and a strong intimidation factor. Often parents are on the defensive and ready to explain why their child does the things that he/she does. This is not the best way to begin an interview with the teacher of your son or daughter.

For an education system to really work, there needs to be open lines of communication between the school and the parents. Rules and expectations that govern the classroom need to be reinforced at home. A student, especially one who is having problems at school, needs to know that the teacher and the parents have formed an alliance in order to make sure that the best possible school experience will be achieved.

The following suggestions may help to pave the road to good communication:

Do not wait until there is a problem to initiate contact with the teacher. A parent who would like to have an on-going dialogue with his/her child's teacher needs to make this desire known early in the year. If the first contact with your child's teacher doesn't occur until there's a classroom issue to address, someone will end up on the defensive. The teacher may feel that they are being accused of not performing their job correctly, or the parent may feel as though their parenting skills are being doubted. At any rate, it's not a comfortable situation.

Don't accuse or even hint that the teacher isn't serving the needs of your child. A teacher is trying his or her best to accommodate the needs of your child and the other twenty five children in the class. He/she is probably over-worked and is simply doing his/her best to meet everyone's educational needs. If you really feel that the teacher is falling short with your child, make some suggestions on what works at home, where you feel his/her shortcomings are and what strategies may work. Remember that you and your child's teacher are a team.

Be available to help in the classroom. Probably the best way to really see what is happening in your child's classroom is to actually spend some time there. If it's possible to volunteer in the classroom, both the teacher and your child will be happy. This can help ease the teacher's workload and show your child that you are interested in what they do on a daily basis. The teacher will become more comfortable with you and you will be able to speak more freely about your child and his/her needs and achievements.

Be open and receptive to the teacher's ideas. Often, a teacher sees your child in a different light than you do. They see how they interact with their peers, how they respond to being one of twenty-something in a classroom and what distracts them. They see behaviours that may not be present at home. They can offer insights into your child of which you may not have been aware.

The most important thing to remember is that both you and your child's teacher have the same common goal. To help to guide your child into a happy, healthy and productive adulthood. Strong links between home and school will help to facilitate this end.

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