Back to school time in the Lowcountry is upon us. The excitement of back to school shopping, meeting new school friends, and preparing your child for the rigorous academics for the next grade is in full swing. While school supply shopping and academics are important, keep in mind that building a relationship with your child’s new teacher is one of the most effective ways to ensure a successful school year. Even as an educator who spends 50 hours a week in a school, I often struggle to keep a relationship with my son’s preschool teacher. I continue to work to build a relationship with the teacher my son will spend his days with. When parents, children, and teachers have a foundation of communication, trust, and vision for how the year will go, it creates a wonderful year for the child.
Basics to building a parent/teacher relationship
Back to basics, start with finding out your child’s teacher name. Find ways to communicate with the teacher as soon as possible. This can include an e-mail address, now found on the school’s website, or calling the school and asking to speak to them.
Either via e-mail or over the phone, communicate several ways to get a hold of you as the parent. Share your information. During this time, arrange a good old fashioned parent-teacher conference. This is the beginning of your relationship.
During the parent-teacher conference, decide the best ways to communicate positive moments in class, if there are any concerns, or any important class events. Creating effective and open lines of communication is one of the best ways to understand what occurs in class.
After the intentional meeting, create reminder moments to connect with the teacher. I work to meet with the teacher after interim reports, which occur every five weeks, and after each report card, which occur every nine weeks. Communicating after these milestone school events creates a consistent awareness of your children’s progress academically and socially within the classroom setting. It’s best to communicate often with the teacher, not just when situational problems occur.
One last basic to building a relationship with your child’s teacher is communicating directly with the teacher when conflict or a problem occurs. Working directly with the teacher first will create trust and understanding that the teacher is a part of your team. Only get the principal or assistant principal involved after you have spoken with the teacher first.
With the excitement of the upcoming school year, don’t forget that building a solid relationship with your child’s new teacher is essential. Create these long-lasting teacher relationships quickly, and these will be your first steps to having a successful school year. Welcome back to school!