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The Importance of Effective Parent-Teacher Communication

A child’s degree of success in school depends on much more than a good teacher and challenging curriculum. Parental involvement is critical. Numerous studies have shown that children whose parents are involved with their education get better grades and are more successful as adults.

One of the most important ways to get involved in your child’s education is to establish effective communication with your child’s teachers. Teachers are the professionals who know best what works to help children learn, and YOU are the expert on your child. When you work together as a team to meet your child’s needs, it’s a recipe for educational success!

Here are some things you can do to get the ball rolling and establish a long term, effective relationships with your child’s teacher.

Initiate communication early
Teachers are very busy at the start of a new school year and may not have the chance to reach out to parents immediately. Feel free to make the first move, but keep it simple.  Introduce yourself to your child’s teacher early in the year by phone, e-mail or in person. Let them know you are enthusiastic about working with together to be sure your child has a successful year. Be sure to invite him or her to contact you frequently and provide your phone number, e-mail address or other way to reach you.

Offer to help
If you have the time, offer to volunteer in the classroom, chaperone field trips or assemble copies at home. Being helpful and supportive is a great way to start off an effective parent-teacher relationship!

Don’t wait for a problem to arise
Don’t think that you need only talk to the teacher if there is a problem with your child. It’s best to open the lines of communication under positive circumstances while things are going smoothly. Then in the unlikely event that problems arise later, you and the teacher will already have established a good relationship and will be better able to work together effectively to resolve the problem.

Communicate frequently
Whether things are going smoothly or an issue has arisen, check in with the teacher every now and then. Is homework being turned in on time? Are there any tests or projects on the horizon? How is your child behaving in the classroom? If there was a problem, is it improving? These are all questions you may consider asking to stay informed and let the teacher know you are concerned and want to work with him or her.

Help the teacher get to know your child
Many teachers will ask parents at the beginning of a new school year to provide information about their child’s strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes, and how their son or daughter learns best. Even if you’re not asked, you should provide this information, particularly if your son or daughter has any special needs, allergies or other concerns that affect how your child learns and functions best in the classroom environment. Sharing this important information will help the teacher understand your child and enable them to effectively work with you to best to meet your child’s needs.

Be sure that communication with the teacher is not one-sided. You must talk, but you also need to listen. If your child’s teacher contacts you about problems or concerns, do not become defensive. Do not assume that the teacher dislikes your child or is being unfair. Listen carefully to the teacher’s concerns, then respond respectfully. Discuss how you can work together to address them.

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