Developing cooperative relationships between parents and teachers is a critical aspect of a successful education. In the Bay Area, there is both an increased pressure on children to excel academically and on teachers to produce high test scores. By a national standard, many of the local public and private schools offer academically accelerated programs. In addition, many children have active family lives and participate in several extracurricular activities. There are many ways to effectively foster school-home partnerships and support your child’s education. We suggest the following:
- Stay involved by knowing the curriculum for your child’s grade.
- Support your child’s teacher by volunteering in the classroom, donating supplies or driving on field trips.
- Be sure to call the teacher when your child is absent to arrange for make-up work.
- Be emotionally supportive by setting goals for achievement based on current skills and emphasizing effort and progress in school, rather than just test scores.
- Always acknowledge the progress your child has made and avoid comparing your child with siblings or peers.
- Listen to your child’s frustrations with learning.
You can increase the benefit of a parent-teacher conference easily by preparing and participating. Prepare by keeping ongoing notes to discuss with the teacher that reflect your concerns or questions as well as those of your child. Give your questions to the teacher in writing in advance and be clear about areas of concern. If possible, both parents should attend the conference. During the conference, stay focused on the key points you wish to convey, listen carefully and take notes. If there is anything you don’t understand, ask questions. Give the teacher feedback directly and gently and remember to give your child feedback regarding the conference.
When a problem arises, talk to the teacher immediately and directly in an effort to problem-solve together and coordinate solutions between home and school. Assume that the teacher wants to help your child and recognize that he or she is the educational expert while you are the expert on your child. Communicate openly and honestly.
Show your appreciation for the expertise, hard work, and caring your child’s teacher brings to the classroom every day. Voice that appreciation in person, write a note when something good happens at school and share positive feedback with the school principal. In addition, teach your child a variety of ways to express appreciation in the classroom by being respectful and helpful and by paying attention. Your child will enjoy giving gifts to the teacher on holidays or birthdays.