Would you like to improve your relationship with your child’s teacher?

Would you like to improve your relationship with your child’s teacher?

As a parent, it is often hard to have the degree of contact and the type of relationship that one may wish to enhance your child’s potential in any given class.

Equally, as a teacher, it is frequently difficult to have the opportunity and the level of engagement with a parent to make a difference to a student in a way that is meaningful and timely.

On both sides of the school fence we can each plead that we do not have time.  Time to do what perhaps should be done – and that is to have conversations that are opportune and long enough to discuss the real issues.

Time. This is the lament of both teachers and parents. Therefore, it is the responsibility of both parties. We can always make excuses but being proactive pays great dividends.

If in doubt, reach out.

My extensive work in schools with teachers reveals that they would dearly love more contact with the parents of their students. Often the parents they do see are often not the parents with whom they really want contact. The parents of children who need extra work or attention are not always readily available.  Of course, the opposite is true where parents of those in great need of support through to the average student as well as the gifted student make themselves highly available for dialogue.

As a former teacher, and now parent coach and student tutor, I see every side.

What is crystal clear is that EVERY child has a history and there is ALWAYS something to learn from a parent-teacher consultation that is worthwhile.

Even though time is of the essence, here are some tips to help make sure your child is seen and well catered for in any classroom.

  1. Approach your teacher with the assumption they care and truly want to make a difference to your child.
  2. Know that your child’s teacher will be pressured by many factors in any classroom and that they will want to make changes that will be useful.
  3. Plan to spend at least 15 mins with the teacher to have sufficient time to explain a situation and for you both to plan a strategy together.
  4. Arrange or accept an invitation in a timely manner – in other words, when a concern arises, address it sooner rather than later. Leaving it may not be prudent and more difficult for your child.
  5. Do follow-up with either a phone call or an email
  6. Avoid catching your teacher on the fly between classes or in the playground. Plan to sit down comfortably and without distraction.
  7. Where possible make an appointment with the teacher by asking for a convenient time that the teacher is available to meet with you.

The Value of Face-to-Face Meetings

Remember that emails are fraught with the potential for misinterpretation. We need to always be mindful that it is the reader puts the tone and meaning into a word or sentence.

Meaning lies with the reader – not the sender.

As a matter of principle, I will always speak with a parent directly. I want to eliminate misconception and risk an escalation of any issue.

It is always worth the effort to visit the teacher in person, whenever possible. The time spent in direct conversation will usually outweigh the extra time it takes to write an email and the two of you are able to deal with the issue immediately or otherwise by being able to read each other’s intent more clearly.

My Role as a Parent Coach

I invite both parents to a consultation. It is important for me to have a relationship with both parents and to see how we each can contribute to the environment of the child. As a parent coach and learning specialist, my consultations take the form of 1.5 hours. I have learnt over many years that there is much to learn about a home situation and the history of the child that is valuable to learn and discuss so that meaningful strategies can be designed with an implementation plan and follow-up. That takes time.

My parents value the extra time I offer in this context so the whole family may benefit.

Dealing with a Tricky Situation

If there is a behavioural or sensitive issue to be discussed here is what I would suggest :

  1. Call or email your teacher and make a time to speak, preferably face-to-face.
  2. Allow at least 15 mins or more depending on the severity of the concern.
  3. Arrange to do this away from your child and perhaps even their knowing.
  4. This is important adult time and it may deserve to be regarded as confidential.
  5. Ask your teacher to provide an insight as to how your child behaves and performs when you are not around and under various circumstances.
  6. Your honesty and the information you provide as to your current home situation and how your child is behaving at home will be very valuable. This is especially important when families are separated.

One of the most valuable things you can do as a parent is to have direct contact with each of your child’s teachers early in the year. They will appreciate you have made the time and an early establishment of a relationship may well reap the benefits of a memorable year and advancement in learning for your child.

You are always welcome to contact me.

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