Our kids spend a lot of time at school. My kids leave for school at 7:30 and return at about 3:00. This is 7 and a half hours away from home. This is 37 and a half hours a week. 37 and a half hours. I am entrusting my kiddos, my loved ones, my children into the school’s care for 37 and a half hours a week. For this reason, it is very important to build a positive school-home relationship. It matters. It matters for our kids. It matters for our school. It matters for our family. I have a unique perspective on this. I am a teacher. I have taught at almost every level in the school system. I started at an elementary school, then moved to a middle school, and I am currently a high school math teacher. I also have children at school. Three of my children are in Elementary school. So, I can see both sides, both as a parent and as a teacher.
If you want to have a positive school-home relationship, start it. Be the one that initiates contact. As soon as you find out who your child’s teacher is going to be, schedule a parent-teacher conference. Go to all of the meet your teacher and back-to-school nights, but also make a point to schedule a one-on-one parent teacher conference, preferably before school starts. If school has already started, schedule one now. Bring a form such as this one: Student Information Form. Here’s a copy that I filled out, about a fictional student: Sample Student Information Sheet. During this meeting, discuss the information on the sheet, and leave it with your child’s teacher. This will help the teacher as he/she plans for the class. The teacher will begin the school year knowing exactly what modifications to make for your child.
At this meeting also discuss the teacher’s expectations, rules, and procedures. Obtain a copy of the rules and procedures, as well as a disclosure statement. Discuss these documents at length with your child, to help prepare them for a successful year with the teacher.
Take some time during this initial meeting to find out about the teacher. We all want to be known, and taking some of your time to get to know about your child’s teacher will go along way in building a positive relationship. Find out about their family, their college, and some of their likes and dislikes (this will also help with gifts in the future).
By showing this level of interest in your child’s education, it will help all parties involved know and understand each other. The teacher will know your child and how they feel about school. They will also know you and know that you are committed to your child’s education. You will learn about the teacher and know how the teacher expects the classroom to function. Your child will come in knowing how the classroom is run and already know that your and their teacher have built a relationship.
– Schedule a meeting with your child’s teacher, either before the school year or as soon as possible.
– Fill out and print the Student Information Form to share with your child’s teacher.
– Learn about how the teacher runs their classroom and familiarize yourself with their rules and procedures.
– Learn about the teacher, show interest in the person that is responsible for your child for a large portion of each day.
Get Both Sides of the Story
My children aren’t perfect. I don’t even want them to be. How boring would that be? But, I do expect them to do their best and to show respect and obey the school rules.
One day one of my children came home upset. She had gotten in trouble at school. Of course, according to her, it wasn’t their fault at all.
Now, let’s think about this. If we get in trouble, aren’t we normally quick to blame someone else? We don’t want it to be our fault. My child was able to give me a great story, where she had done nothing wrong, and someone else was entirely to blame. I quickly sent off an e-mail to this student’s teacher, asking them what happened. The stories didn’t quite match.
Now what? Do I believe my student, or do I believe the teacher? Being a teacher myself, I can tell you that it’s not very often that a teacher is going to lie about something that a student did. But it does happen. If you feel it is warranted, set up a conference with the teacher to discuss the incident. Normally, this will resolve everything. If you still aren’t sure that everything was handled correctly, then involve the principal. But, don’t involve the principal until you have tried to resolve any situation with the student and the teacher. If you’ve made a mistake and done something wrong, wouldn’t you want the opportunity to make it right? Give the teacher the same opportunity. This is a great way to build a positive relationship. Show the teacher that you respect them. Also, show your student that you will listen to them, and that you will ensure that things are handled appropriately.
I was able to find out that my student was in the wrong. The punishment that the teacher gave her was appropriate. But, I would have never known if I had not gotten both sides of the story.
– When in doubt, ask.
– Always get both sides of the story.
– Try to resolve things with the teacher before going to the principal.
Do everything you can to be involved with your student’s education. Volunteer in the classroom, when your schedule permits it. Be a room mother/father. Join the PTA. Help plan school activities. Attend the events. Be the first one to arrive and the last one to leave. If your schedule is tight, offer to cut apart laminated items at home. Look for ways to help. What a great way to build a positive relationship! Show that you are there for the school, for the teacher, and for the student.
– Be involved in every way that you can.
Our kids spend so much time at school, it’s important to make sure we have a positive school-home relationship. There are many ways of doing this, but remember, Be Proactive, Get Both Sides of the Story, and Be Involved.