Connect to Your Child’s Teacher for Less Stress and a Better School Year
Want to make your new school year more successful for your child and less stressful for you? Creating a positive relationship with your child’s teacher is one of the best ways to have a great year. You already know that your child’s year will be better if s/he has a good relationship with the teacher. It also helps when parents and teachers are on the same page.
Use these six simple tips to start connecting with your child’s teacher.
1. Write an All About Me Letter - Military kids don’t have the luxury of developing complete K-12 school records in one place. This year, there might not be the chance for the teacher to just pop down the hall for a quick introductory chat. Maybe that official permanent record isn’t there yet or isn’t quite as in-depth as you’d like. Instead, work with your child to write an All About Me letter to share likes, dislikes, favorite sports, previous duty station, and thoughts on school. Parents could also write their own letters. Share the history of your child at school and your contact info. Having this information on day one will make it easier for the teacher to get to know your child.
2. Go to Meet the Teacher Day - Most pre-k to grade 5 schools have some sort of mini open house just before school starts. It’s a chance to peek at the new classroom and greet the teacher before the first day. Always go to these. First, it’s a chance to put a face to a name which can be super helpful for military kids who are new to a school. Second, it’s a chance for you to get face time with the teacher. You can share a bit about your family, express your excitement for the new school year, and ask if there is any way that you can help the class.
3. Send Regular Friendly Emails - If you see something going well at school, let the teacher know. Take a minute a few times a month to share positive school experiences. This is different than the normal emails the teacher will be getting about grades or behavior. Your email might be a day brightener! You’ll be letting the teacher know that the teaching is working for your child. It’s easier to handle the hard stuff when you already have a positive foundation.
4. Help the Class When You Can - Everyone loves a helping hand. Ask how you can help the classroom. Offering to help doesn’t mean that you need to physically be at school. You could help cut out laminated items at night while you’re watching TV, offer to help manage the class book order, or make introductions that could open doors for unusual field trips. It could be that you do have time to help while class is in session. When you become a go-to volunteer or regular face at school, you’ll be more likely to get an inside track with the teacher, and it will be easier for you to work together to solve sticky situations or prevent missteps. After all, you’re already at the school. If you’re physically in the classroom during teaching time, you’ll get to see classroom behavior management and teaching styles. Seeing the teacher in action can help you to offer better support at home.
5. Be Honest and Understanding - It is a rare thing to get from preschool to senior year without some bumps in the school road. Tough situations will happen. How you handle them can impact your child. When something less than positive pops up, like poor grades or out-of-line behavior, bring it to the teacher. Address the situation with tact and honesty. Remain unfailingly professional in your emails or meetings with the teacher and school about difficult situations. Use logic, facts, and rational arguments to make your point without placing blame. Keeping things calm and professional can be hard for parents. Scripting out your meetings or phone calls can help you stay on point and in control.
6. Thank the Teacher Often - There are many thankless jobs in the world, and teaching seems to be one of them these days. Salaries are low, budgets are shrinking, and even basic supplies might be coming from the teacher’s paycheck. When you see something going right, acknowledge it. Your appreciation doesn’t have to be big or flashy or expensive. Say saying thank you for a job well done is more than enough. Better yet, have your child write a note. Letting teachers know that you see their hard work and dedication will mean the world to them, and it will go a long way toward building a great connection to their classroom.
Meg Flanagan, founder of MilKids Ed, is a teacher, mom, and military spouse. She is dedicated to making the K-12 education experience easier for military families. Meg holds an M.Ed in special education and a BS in elementary education. She is a certified teacher in both elementary and special education in Massachusetts and Virginia. Meg regularly writes for MilitaryOneClick, Military Shoppers, and NextGen MilSpouse. You can find Meg, and MilKids, online on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. To get actionable solutions to common K-12 school problems, parents should check out Talk to the Teacher by Meg Flanagan.