Happy first day of school to all of our Greeley-Evans students and teachers, and happy first day to all of the parents who have a little extra peace and quiet at home this morning. The beginning of the school year brings sharp crayons, fresh haircuts and new teachers for your child.
As a former elementary teacher myself, I can speak from experience when I say the relationship between the parent and teacher is highly important. Here is a list of 10 things which I wanted my students’ parents to know at the beginning of the school year in order for all of us to have the best experience possible.
- Make it a Team Approach: Try to see yourself on the same team with your child’s teacher. The two of you both want the very best for your child, and working together will get you much farther than working alone.
- Your Kindness Goes a Long Way: The beginning of the school year is absolutely chaotic and stressful for teachers, and a little thank you means so much. A short note, a quick email or even just saying thank you and acknowledging the teacher’s hard work means so much.
- Help Teach Your Child Independence: When it comes to walking your child into the classroom each morning, do your best to let your child enter alone after the first week. Your child needs to learn how to hang up his or her backpack and coat, put away a lunchbox or move a lunch count and get to his or her desk independently. While your presence is always welcome in the classroom, consistently doing simple tasks for your child hinders him or her from gaining the independence and confidence that comes with responsibility.
- Give Some Grace: If the teacher misspells your child’s name on their desk or overlooks a note from home, bring the mistake to the teacher’s attention with kindness. Teachers are human, too, and mistakes will happen. A little grace will go a long way in building a positive relationship and the team feeling which will make the year successful for everyone.
- Communicate: If something major is going on in your child’s home life, let the teacher know as soon as possible. Sometimes a new baby or a deployed parent or a health issue may impact your child’s behavior in the classroom, and the teacher can watch for or prevent problems that may occur as a result. Because the teacher is with your child 7-8 hours every day, he or she may notice subtle changes and can keep you in the loop about what is going on in the classroom.
- Be Involved: Whether it be as simple as sending in a veggie tray to the Christmas party once a year or volunteering weekly to make copies and help in the classroom, do what you can to show your support of your child’s education. Always make it to the scheduled conferences (even if it means rescheduling a few times), and read the newsletters and information the teacher sends home.
- Let Your Child Learn the Hard Way: Sometimes a child needs to forget his or her homework, lunch or assignment and suffer the consequence of their irresponsibility. Help your child out the first time or two, and then let them learn that actions have consequences. Having to buy lunch in the cafeteria, losing a privilege or getting a lower grade won’t be the end of the world, and your child will be more likely to remember to be responsible in the future. Your child’s teacher won’t think you’re a bad parent if you don’t come to the rescue every single time your child calls home with a request for a forgotten item, and your child will thank you in the future for helping them to learn responsibility.
- Email When Appropriate: Because your child’s teacher is busy from 8:00 am until 4:00 pm, email is an incredibly convenient way to communicate. It gives the teacher the flexibility to read your message during lunch or when there are five minutes of downtime during the day, and it is much simpler than listening to a phone message when students are in the room. Allow the teacher 24 hours to reply. If the information you need to relay is too urgent to wait for 24 hours and you know the teacher is slow to respond to email, a quick phone call or note is a better option.
- Skip the Email when Conflict Arises: Even though email is convenient, remember it lacks the tone of voice and body language which can soften spoken words. Because of this, always choose a phone call or to schedule a face-to-face meeting to avoid misinterpretation whenever a sensitive issue needs to be discussed.
- Deal with Conflict Directly: If you and your child’s teacher have a team approach and are supporting one another, hopefully there won’t be any conflict during the school year. If a problem does arise, please go to the teacher first and try to find a solution before involving administration. Misunderstandings will happen, and it feels like a violation of the parent-teacher relationship when a parent goes directly to the principal before allowing the teacher the opportunity to correct a problem.
May you have a fabulous relationship with all of the teachers in your life this year. We wish all of our parents, students and school staff members a successful 2014-2015 school year!
Greeley Moms, parents and teachers, what would you add to the list?