Promoting Parent-Teacher Communication: Working Together to Build Skills in Our Children
Oprah reminds us over and over again that parenting is the hardest (and most important) job in the world. It’s hard to find a parent that would disagree. As parents we want EVERYTHING that is the “best” for our children. When it comes to sending our children to school, parents will make great efforts to ensure they have the best school, the best learning environment, and certainly the best possible teacher. Parents are deeply aware that a great teacher can make a huge difference in their children’s lives. They are also afraid that a bad teacher might do damage that will last for years.
In February, 2005, the cover of Time was “Why Teachers Hate Parents.” These days, there seems to be a decrease in the mutual respect between teachers and parents. Parents and teachers are sometimes forgetting they share a common goal: to help children learn, grow and develop resiliency. Studies have shown that teachers consider dealing with parents to be the most difficult and stressful part of their job. The worst part about the breakdown of parent-teacher relationships is that it does little to promote optimal growth for children and sometimes it even does the opposite. We can do better.
Effective parent-teacher communication must be nurtured to help our children succeed. Parents and teachers must work together to build an atmosphere of trust so that ANY issue a child is struggling with can be effectively addressed. Each party has a responsibility to work at this relationship—especially when the going gets tough. Developing positive parent-teacher relationships, however, takes SPECIFIC skills that few have received training for. There is a wide range of tools and strategies for both parents and teachers who are willing to invest in this area of children’s lives. Tools range from strategies for making conferences effective, preventing and resolving differences, handling conflict, and nurturing a parent-teacher partnership. Here are just a few tips:
If you have a concern, express it as soon as possible directly to the teacher, before contacting other staff or parents.
Make an appointment stating the topic of concern; this way both of you can be prepared.
If possible, coach your child on how to approach the teacher directly to resolve a problem before getting involved.
Ask for clarification before making assumptions.
Ask the teacher to be specific about the type of misbehavior in which a child might be engaging and examine the context.
For more information about our online parenting course or parent coaching, contact Karen Jacobson, MA, LCPC, LMFT at 312-330-3194, Karen@parentingperspectives.com or Lauren Bondy, LCSW at 847-562-9503, Lauren@parentingperspectives.com. Or, visit www.parentingperspectives.com.