When your child starts going to school – your child’s teacher becomes the most important adult in your child’s life. For several hours in the day – the teacher becomes the parent figure in your child’s life.
If you want your child to love going to school, to enjoy the challenges that the classroom brings along and to put in the effort that will guarantee success – you must build a good relationship with your child’s teacher. A good parent teacher relationship can help your child succeed in school.
If you are the parent of a pre-schooler or an early learner – it is most important that you work on building a good relationship with your child’s teacher. But even if you are the parent of a teen or a pre-teen – make the effort to invest in this relationship.
For the early learner – the school becomes an extension of the home. And an early learner will be able to focus on learning in school – only when he/she feels as secure in school as she/he does at home. And the easiest way to make your child feel secure is – by ensuring that your relationship with the teacher is such – that she is like family. Children learn best when they are in the middle of a circle of support. And it is most important for parents to focus on building this circle of support in the early years.
A teen or pre-teen or teen on the other hand is taking the her/his first steps into the adult world and the teacher is like the bridge that the child uses to walk on to reach the other side. Mistakes and missteps are bound to happen as your child walks the shaky path to adulthood – and a good parent teacher relationship can be the steadying force in your child’s life during that difficult time.
What to do to build a good relationship with your child’s teacher
A positive parent teacher relationship can make your child a rapid learner. Here are 20 tips you can follow to build a good relationship with your child’s teacher.
- Respect your child’s teacher – Respect is one of the most important elements of the parent teacher relationship. It is important to respect your child’s teacher because your child will only respect people he/she sees you respecting. Respect is a very important part of learning because it is only when a child respects his/her teacher will he/she value what the teacher says and make an effort to remember it.
- Do not criticise or laugh at the teacher – The relationship that you build you’re your child’s teacher is for your child and through your child. Several times there may be situations in which we feel that the teacher is teaching something wrong or inadequate. It is important not to plunge into a “Your teacher does not know anything” discourse at this point because your criticism of the teacher may have a dep impact on your child’s brain and he may never listen to anything his teacher teaches again because he thinks his teacher knows “NOTHING”. Never criticise your child’s teacher – not even when you think your child is not listening – because your child is always listening.
- Do not go by what you have heard others saying – No matter what you have heard from other parents who have had the teacher before – begin your relationship with the teacher on a positive note. Begin with a clean slate. Understand that every human being has a different relationship with every other human being. The person who is telling you about his relationship with the teacher may not have got along with the teacher for his/her own reasons – but those reasons may not hold true for you. You may get along very well with the teacher if you start out on a positive note
- Allow your child to admire adore and love her/his teacher – Children will usually adore their teachers because they seem like they know everything. Allow this adoration to persist. Because it is much easier to learn from those whom we admire and adore because we pay that much more attention to what they say or do.
- Allow your child to develop his/her own relationship with the teacher. A child with very little exposure to the world may love a teacher whom you with your experience and exposure are not satisfied with. Even if you don’t think your child’s teacher is a person to be admired because you are highly qualified and experienced – understand that your child may need just the person his/her teacher is to form a bridge with the vast world of knowledge.
- Communicate – The parent teacher relationship can be built and nurtured only if the channels of communication between you and your child’s teacher remain open. If you are the parent of a child in pre-school or junior school – get to know your child’s teacher right away. Younger children typically need a closer knit support system and your meeting and joining hands with the teacher will help your child build trust in the teacher and improve learning. In case of an older child – make sure you attend the first parent teacher conference and meet the teacher. Ask for an appointment with your child’s teacher. You may be busy – the teacher is probably busier
- Keep in regular touch with your child’s teacher – Constant communication with your child’s teacher is important. Communicate with your child’s teacher – not just when you want to say something or ask for something – but also when he/she wants to convey something. Since teachers are often busy with the many students in their class – they communicate through written notes in the diary or through printed or electronically conveyed messages. Be prompt to respond to these messages and do the needful. If you listen to the teacher – you will find that the teacher will also make an effort to listen to you when you say something.
- Don’t be afraid of your child’s teacher – Many a times parents are afraid to meet the teacher and interact with the teacher. This is especially true for those parents whose children are not performing very well in school. The important thing to remember when it comes to meeting and communicating with your child’s teacher is that – listening to what your child’s teacher has to say, is the golden opportunity to learn something valuable about your child that you may not have known before. And getting an expert assessment of your child from a teacher who is simultaneously evaluating so many children – and learning of areas in which your child can improve – is an opportunity you must not miss out on.
- Do not play the blame game with your child’s teacher – There are bound to be some problems in your child’s academic journey in school. But when a problem arises – it is important to focus on solving the problem rather than finding someone to blame for what is going wrong. Always form a problem solving partnership with your child’s teacher. The blame game – helps no one and hurts your child in long run. Meet the teacher if you think there is a problem but utilise the meeting to brainstorm on ideas to solve the problem rather than find fault with the teacher and the system.
- Expect problems and be ready to resolve them – Sometimes as parents we expect that just because we have a bright child – we are never going to have any problems. But if you believe this – you are as far from the truth as you can possibly be. Every child is sure to have some problems in school. These will need to be resolved discreetly while remembering to respect the chain of command. Do not panic if there is a problem. Do not overwhelm the teacher with your complaints and doubts and worries. Calmly look towards a solution to the problem. And always respect the chain of command. It is ideal to approach the teacher before you reach out to the principal.
- Do not brag about your child – All of us extremely proud of our children and their abilities and accomplishments – but it is not necessary to brag about them to the teacher. Every teacher slowly discovers the strengths and abilities of the children in her class. Allow your child the time he/she needs to exhibit his/her talents and allow the teacher to discover these in the natural course of classroom activities. Bragging about them may overwhelm the teacher.
- Do not focus too much on awards and appreciation – Sometimes parents are very disappointed and hurt when their child’s talents and abilities are not recognized, awarded and appreciated in school. This makes them complain and criticise the school and the teacher. But reacting like this does not help at all. The aim of school activities is – to learn new skills, improve on old skills and have fun while doing that. Whether your child gets the prize or the main role is not important.
- Respect home work and school rules and school timings – If you want the teacher to respect you and your child – you must respect her and the school rules too. Realise that school rules like getting to school on time – finishing homework and projects on time etc. have a definite purpose. They build critical qualities like organizational skills and time management that are required to succeed in life. Also when rules are followed it makes life much easier for the teacher who in school is parent to 20 -30 or more children. If your child makes things easy for the teacher – the teacher is sure to like her/him more too.
- Know what you can do to promote academic development – Parents have a vital role to play in the academic success of the child. Find out what it is that you need to do as your child makes his/her way through school by attending parenting workshops and keep doing what is necessary. Stay constantly connected with your child’s school activities.
- Stay connected with your child’s friends in school and their parents – As parents we have so much to do in our busy lives that we often do not have the time to socialize with our child’s friends and their parents. But not connecting with them is a mistake. Your child’s peer group is a very important part of his/her life and you must make the effort to interact with them. Do not isolate yourself – it will result in your child feeling isolated.
- Talk about school at home – When your child comes home and tries to relate small incidents in school – listen to her/him with rapt attention even if they seem insignificant or inconsequential to you. Your attention will make your child feel important and will build his/her trust in you. If you keep listening to the insignificant things – he will start telling you the important things as well when they happen. Listening carefully to what happened each day will also introduce you to the dynamics in the classroom.
- Show appreciation for the teacher – Everyone likes to be appreciated and thanked and teachers are no exception. Say thank you. Thank your child’s teacher for nurturing your child whenever you get the chance. Write a thank you note in the parent teacher conference feedback or in the diary when you see something good. Also actively look for something good to thank the teacher for.
- Attend PTMs and other events that parents are invited for in school – A lot of effort is put in by the teacher and school to organize events to which they invite parents to come in with their children. Make sure you attend these events and express your appreciation and gratitude at the end of the event. These are opportunities for you to fortify the parent teacher relationship.
- Do not do your child’s work or projects – The objective of schooling is not to have a report card with top grades or a shelf full of trophies. Those are happy consequences of schooling. The real purpose of schooling however is to ensure that your child learns the skills he/she requires to be self-sufficient and successful in the adult world. Do not hamper this learning by doing things for your child. This will definitely not go down well with the school or the teacher.
- Do not mistake feedback for criticism – The teachers’ job is to give you feedback about your child so that you can help your child overcome his areas of weakness. It will be extremely beneficial for your child if you take the teachers feedback for the constructive advice it is – and not be hurt and upset by considering it criticism or targeted dislike. Use negative feedback to help your child excel.
Your child’s teacher should be your friend, ally and collaborator. Both of you want your child to reach his true potential and become an achiever. It is therefore most important for both of you to work in sync with each other. Make the effort to build a good relationship with your child’s teacher to help your child excel.