Parent/Teacher Relationships 101

Plenty of sleep at night, a healthy breakfast in the morning. When the kids are back in school you do everything you can to make sure they get off on the right foot. But one of the best things you can do to help your child have a great school year doesn’t involve them at all. A good relationship between parents and their child’s teacher can go a long way in improving communication and preventing problems during the school year. We talked to several local teachers and asked them what tip they would give to parents looking to create a great parent/teacher relationship. Follow this advice and everyone is sure to have a great school year!

Be Present

Come to the special events, but feel free to come on the normal days, too. You will get a truer feel for what your child is doing in class (good and bad), witness the dynamics with other students, and see my teaching in person. It also gives us an opportunity to talk in a more casual setting than on Open House or during a parent-teacher conference. Many parents work full time, but if there’s any way to squeeze in an hour or two during lunch or after a doctor’s appointment, it will be time well spent. It also goes a long way in showing your child that you are involved. I have seen MANY changes in student behavior after their parents have sat in on classes or showed up unexpectedly to talk with teachers.


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Communication Is Critical

If there’s a problem early on, I prefer to call a parent, rather than email. Emails are easier to “read” after you’ve spoken to someone in person or over the phone. I always start with the positive–find something to brag about–before I move into the problem we’re having. It always helps if parents approach me the same way if they have a concern about my teaching or their child’s grade.

Work Together

A parent and a teacher should work as a team rather than opponents. When children see their parents and teachers working together in a positive atmosphere they are given a sense of security and also a stronger desire to follow the rules on both sides. Constant communication whether good or bad is a must. There should be no academic, behavioral, or any other surprises for the parents or teacher. My students and their parents become a part of my family. We call ourselves a family. Successful families love each other good & bad & they communicate!


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Be Patient

I want to communicate with my parents but they also have to realize that normally during the workday I can’t get back to your emails and sending six of them doesn’t make me go any faster. Respect instructional time and realize that teachers have many parents (and children) to respond to. Give us time to get back to you with a prepared response to your question.


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Assume the Best

The overwhelming majority of teachers became teachers because they love kids and want to make a difference. If you color all your interactions with your child’s teacher with the basic assumption that you both want what’s best for your child, you will have a good relationship with that teacher and your child is the one who really wins.

A version of this story ran in Growing Up, a publication of the Huntsville Times in the Fall of 2012.