How to effectively communicate with your child's teacher and principal

When it comes to your child's education, there should be at least three people involved in every step: the student, the teacher, and the parent. Here are 10 tips to help you keep the lines of communication open between the school and the home.

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  • As a mother of four, it’s extremely difficult for me to keep track of what each child is doing in school. If I’m not careful, my already chaotic world can quickly spin out of control. I have found that the best way to stay organized and on top of things at school is to keep frequent contact with my children’s teachers.

  • Luckily, in today’s modern world, staying in contact is easy to do. Most teachers provide their email addresses to all students and parents, and some even request text messaging as a means of communication. Even the school principal is often accessible through telephone, email, and school’s website.

  • However, just because we have this great technology doesn’t mean there aren’t problems. Teachers frequently say that they wish parents would interact with them more, and take a more active role in their children's education. Here are ten tips to help you communicate with your children’s teachers and principals more efficiently.

  • Make the time

  • Even though you are extremely busy, for the sake of your child, understand how important it is to talk to their teachers and principal. This is the only reliable way to keep track of how your child is doing.

  • Learn the teachers’/principal’s preferred method of communication

  • Ask your child's instructors how they want to be contacted, whether by telephone, email, text message, or even on a classroom or school blog.

  • Partner with teachers

  • When you work with teachers, your child has the best chance for success both at school and at home. Talk with teachers, and help them plan individual education routes for your child. Most teachers are perfectly happy to include interested parents in their classroom planning.

  • Don’t assume that the teacher is aware of a problem

  • If there’s a problem with your child at school, whether it’s issues with another student or struggles with homework, never simply assume that the teacher knows about it. The same goes with the principal. Let him or her know the situation so they can help correct any problems that might have arisen.

  • Your child’s past is important

  • Has your child moved a lot? Does he or she have social anxiety? Medical issues? Let the teacher know of any past issues with your child so that he or she can better accommodate your child before problems arise.

  • Attend school meetings

  • This is your chance to learn more about your child’s school, especially the principal and teachers.

  • Read notices sent home by the school

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  • This is the best way to stay connected and to learn about school events, activities, and news. Sign up for school email notification lists so that you don't have to rely on flyers or mail.

  • Go to parent-teacher conferences

  • These meetings are critical because this is where you find out about your child’s progress and learn about any issues. Additionally, if your child's instructor sees that you are committed enough to attend these functions, then they will probably be more willing to work with you in regards to any special problems that might occur.

  • Remember that teachers are professionals

  • They have college degrees and take continuing education courses every year. If your child’s teacher gives you advice, seriously consider it. He or she is not the enemy; teachers really want what's best for your child. Difficult as it might be to consider, children can sometimes demonize their teachers in an effort to turn parents against them. If your child is telling you terrible things about his instructor, then take the issue directly to the teacher to resolve it. Don't go straight to the principle or school board unless you don't have other options.

  • Say thank you to teachers

  • When things go well in class, or if you notice positive changes in your child, send a note of appreciation to the teacher (and let the principal know too). Teachers aren’t often recognized for their good work. A little thank you can go a long way.

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Rachel McClellan, is an experienced author. She has written several books. Her most recent book is Confessions of a Cereal Mother.

Website: http://www.rachelmcclellan.com

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