Frankly Fatherhood – The Teacher Parent Partnership
As both a parent and a teacher, I sometimes struggle with what hat to wear when it comes to my kids’ education. This fall, both my boys will be in school (Grade 1 and JK) and as I continue to appreciate and navigate the parent role, I am reminded of the importance of the parent-teacher relationship.
Teachers spend a lot of time with our kids and are important adults in their lives. In a very short amount of time, they will get to know your child while assessing and evaluating their ability to meet curriculum expectations. This journey through grade school may come easy for some but many of our children will struggle – whether academically, socially, or emotionally. In my experience, the best outcomes for kids happen when teachers and parents work together in a harmonious partnership. I have seen struggling students overcome their challenges and thrive because of amazing alliances between teachers and parents. Here are some tips that will help you kick-start and foster that positive relationship.
Keep communication open: If your child is having difficulties with their homework, peers, or just not wanting to go to school, share this with the teacher. In turn, expect that teachers will also talk about your child’s difficulties with you. It’s never easy to hear bad news from a teacher, but keep in mind that the goal is not to belittle your child or your parenting abilities, but to look for a solution to the problem together.
Focus on facts, not feelings: It’s challenging not to get caught up in emotions when dealing with issues involving your child. When they hurt, you hurt ten times more, and teachers understand that. When discussing a challenge, try to focus on the facts to help guide the discussion. Keep a journal or a record of your observations (how long homework takes, how many days a week they don’t want to go to school, etc.).
Keep an open mind: Even new and inexperienced teachers develop quite the tool kit of strategies and ideas very quickly. They have access to experienced colleagues, resources, and work with students with similar issues. Listen to what they have to say and give their strategies a chance. If you don’t get the desired results, just say so and go back to the drawing board together. It may take several tries before finding something that works.
Be specific: Saying you want your child to do better in math is very broad. If math is a struggle, then try to pinpoint what exactly the issue is. Work together to identify the problem, outline it specifically, select one or two goals to work on, then put together a plan. Involve your child and discuss the goal together – they may have some ideas on how to get there too!
What we parents need to remember is that we are on the same team as teachers. We both want our kids to be happy and successful. A partnership approach will ensure consistency between home and school; it will show our kids that teachers and parents care and want to work together to make it better. And what a great way to model to our kids how adults collaborate and resolve issues in a positive way!
Here’s to a great start to your school year!