How To Work With Public School Teachers And Administrators To Help Your Child

Your child's education should be a team effort. Here are eight tips to help you communicate and work with public school teachers and administrators.

When it comes to children, most parents want to ensure that their child is happy, healthy and well cared for. A large part of any child's life is their education, and parents can help maintain a good working relationship with the school in many ways.

Tip #1:

Get involved with the teacher.

Go to every one of your child's conferences and meetings. Teachers are usually willing to work around your schedule in order to meet with you. They also understand that most parents work and it is not always easy to arrange time off in order to attend a school function. Many teachers will arrange a before or after-school appointment to meet with you, and some will even do a phone conference if needed. Any conference is better than no conference, and everyone needs to be on the same page in regards to the student.

Tip #2:

Participate in your child's school activities.

Can you volunteer during the school day? Teachers absolutely love their parent helpers. There are numerous ways to help in the classroom. Read with a child. Help with a class party. Send in snacks. Eat lunch in the cafeteria with your student and his or her classmates. Show your child that you are interested in what they do at school.

Can't arrange time off work? Go to the after-school events. Go to the Movie Nights. Go to the Book Fairs. Are there dances? Volunteer to chaperone; just be there.

Tip #3:

Remember that administrators and teachers have a job to do.

Your child's safety and education comes first to them, but they do have guidelines to follow in regards to maintaining a safe environment for everyone. You may want something done a certain way, but they may not be able to accommodate all of your requests. Work together in reaching a compromise that is agreeable to all parties involved.

Tip #4:

School employees are bound by confidentiality rules.

Just as you would not want a teacher or other staff sharing information about your child, don't ask about other students. Don't ask why little Johnny can't sit still, or why Lisa can't read yet, or if Mark has autism. If you have a valid complaint about another student, don't hesitate to share it with an administrator or teacher, but don't press for information. They can't tell you.

Tip #5:

Listen; really listen, to what they may tell you about your child.

Every parent at some point has said "My child wouldn't do that," but the truth is, children often act very differently at school. As do we all, children make mistakes and if you treat it as a learning opportunity it will benefit your child.

Tip #6:

Communicate with everyone.

Stay involved in the day-to-day education of your child. Drop the teacher a note or e-mail occasionally. Check homework daily. Talk to your child about the school day. If you ask, "How was your day?" and all you ever hear is, "Okay," ask specific questions.

Ask which friend they played with at recess. Ask what type of math they worked on. Question them about the best part of the day and don't be surprised to find out it was snack time. If that happens, ask what the snack was! Let your child know you care about everything and that you work with the teacher, as a team.

Tip #7:

Be upfront.

If you have a problem with a teacher, go to the teacher first. Many times it is something that can be resolved easily. Communication is the key here, as sometimes student issues are a result of simple misunderstanding or perception. Be clear. If Whitney claims her teacher yelled at her in class, ask the teacher about it. If an issue cannot be resolved, then do make an appointment to talk to administration. State your concerns and then be willing to listen, as they should be willing to listen to you.

Tip #8:

Your child comes first.

This education belongs to your child. Share in it, but don't take it over. Listen to your student as well as the staff. School is a huge part of a child's life and if you can stay connected in that area, you may very well stay connected in all areas. By teaching your child that education is a team effort, you are setting an example for life.

After all, YOU are your child's most important teacher.

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