Parent-Teacher Communication — Start Early and End Strong

With the school year gearing up, parents have a million and one things for which to prepare. Making sure you’re ready for school yourself is just as important as preparing your child for it. This doesn’t mean stocking yourself up with pencils and paper, but rather getting together the right communication tools with your child’s teacher. Effective communication with your children’s teachers can help them succeed and give you peace of mind regardless of what grade your child is in. As children grow up into teenagers and young-adulthood you will need to adjust your strategy for parent-teacher communication and this article is here to help you navigate just that.

Why Communication Is Important

It’s important to note that your kids’ teachers probably want to communicate with you as much as you do with them. They know that proper communication with you will ultimately help them succeed in the classroom. The point of having established communication with the teacher is so your child can excel and it’s a pivotal piece to the equation. Knowing what is going on with your child’s individual progress as well as the classroom and school as a whole will help fill in the information gaps that are likely to arise from simply asking your child: “How is school?” or “What are you doing in school this week?” Not only does direct parent-teacher communication improve clarity of information, it also makes the teacher feel supported and your child will feel important and engaged along the way.

The golden rule with any parent-teacher communication is to set the precedent as early as you can. Reach out to the teacher to introduce yourself, whether with an email or in-person, and let him or her know that you are open to regular, open communication. Having the right attitude will also go a long way. Try to be understanding and let the teacher know that you want to work as a team as much as possible. Setting the right foundation of communication can help set your child up for long-term success.

Elementary School

Elementary school requires a lot of communication between parents and teachers. While it can seem overwhelming, it doesn’t have to be. Have steady communication, but don’t go overboard! It’s certainly important to get general classroom updates as well as individualized discussions regarding your child, but don’t micromanage.

Setting up a bi-weekly email with the teacher offers the best balance. He or she might have a classroom newsletter that is dispersed to all parents and then you can request individual discussions after the monthly announcements are out. This will reduce the need for repeating information and will give order to the communication.

Middle School

Parents of middle school-aged children often reduce their communication with teachers. While your children are growing up and becoming more self-sufficient it is still important that you and their teachers work together to support them and open communication is the key.

Usually two-way dialogue occurs when there is a problem – break that! Ask to communicate more regularly, the earlier the better. Some parents even fear dialogue with their children’s teachers because they feel it has a negative connotation. By establishing open and honest channels of communication you can break that cycle. Parents should know when things are going well and should also be aware of any potential issues; early communication can keep everyone on track.

High School

It’s common to have less physical contact with the school at this age. Your children might now ride the bus to and from school, or even drive themselves, and parent visitation is less prevalent. However, attending a parent day or open house will enable you to connect with teachers and administrators and help establish initial communication.

It’s important to remember that children are more likely to succeed inside and outside the classroom when the parents are involved. It shows that you are active and interested while supporting the teacher with your child’s individual victories and challenges.

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