A Parent's Guide To Handling Elementary Teachers

The parent teacher relationship takes some effort to develop but is a fundamental part of helping children to receive the quality education they deserve.

Having a child in elementary school almost guarantees that you will come into contact with an elementary school teacher. How and when you deal with that first meeting can set the tone for the entire school year. Using a little common sense and planning ahead, that first meeting can be the start of a wonderful working relationship between you and your child"˜s teacher. After all, you both have the same goal of a quality education for your child.

The first meeting may come as the student is registering. At registration time, the teacher is swamped with trying to check all the forms and supplies that each child needs. Expecting a lengthy discussion on your child and their participation in the class would not be realistic at this time. Instead, take a few minutes to schedule a meeting for the upcoming weeks.

This time is necessary for the teacher to have some experience with your child so they will be able to discuss your child's educational needs in a more conversational type of meeting. If they have never had your child as a student before, then all they could discuss at registration is what you tell them about your child. As well as we parents like to think we know everything about our children, they will do things differently with other adults than they would for us. So this slight delay in the first meeting will allow the teacher to have a few days with the child to start forming a relationship.

Try to think of each year as somewhat of a clean slate. Just because last year was either a positive or negative experience, this year may not be the same. Elementary school teachers vary in the amount of devotion to their class. Some will go far beyond the call of duty to provide the little extras that help the children in their class know that someone believes in them. Still others may simply do just the bare minimum of teaching the course work. Neither is necessarily a bad teacher, nor one that you should feel is not giving your child the attention they deserve. The reasons for the differences are as varied as the teacher's past experiences. You can help get your child the extra attention you feel they need, by working with the teacher or by providing more educational situations outside of the school system. Realizing your role in your child's education is as important as your child's teacher is a good starting point for reaching your goal of a quality education for your child.

Your interaction with the teacher can have as big of am impact on your child's education as the different teaching styles of teachers. Don't butt heads with another adult that is an instrumental part of your child's life by going into a meeting dead set on having a certain outcome. Remain calm and ask questions. Believe in your child, but also give the teacher the chance to explain their view of the situation. Ask for suggestions on how they think the situation can best be handled. Share your ideas on how to handle any problems also.

The key is to work together. If a parent is frustrated and complaining about a teacher, the child will become aware of the problem and will act differently than if the parent and teacher are working together for the child's best interest. Both you and the child will begin to react to the teacher in a more negative manner which only leads to further problems down the road. Although you have the option of going to the administration, this can often lead to further problems. Instead try to work with the teacher if at all possible.

By taking the time to discuss problems openly and plan meetings for times which are mutually acceptable without undue rush, you can begin a more positive working relationship with your child's teacher. You can also take this a step further by volunteering to help the teacher.

Volunteering at school doesn't mean you have to come to class daily and do specific activities. It may be something as simple as sending a bag of candy or supplies for a special activity. You may find that listening to children read or reading to younger ones fits your schedule and personality better. Maybe the teacher needs help with getting other parents to help. Could you call some of the other parents or community members to motivate them to help in some way?

By putting yourself into the school situation in a volunteering capacity, you actually get to see what the teachers deal with and how the students interact with the faculty. You get a small dose of what the teacher goes through on a daily basis without the responsibility of 15-30 children on your own. You will come out of the experience with a greater understanding of the difficulty of a teacher's job as well as a greater respect for their ability to deal with so many children vying for their attention at once. After all, your child is the most important student in the class to you, but the teacher has many more students that are equally as important to them.

Remain open to suggestions, willing to help whenever possible, and discuss problems in a reasonable manner at a time that will work for both you and the teacher. These simple steps will take you far along the road in the journey to helping your child receive the quality education they deserve. It will also help to relieve your stress over receiving any possible notes from the teacher when your child walks in from school.

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