Connecting to Your Child’s Teacher

Ever wonder what it really takes to start out on the right foot with your child’s elementary teacher?

While many parents think it means volunteering in the classroom and showing up for parent-teacher conferences, building a positive relationship with teachers actually begins with what you do at home to connect to your child’s education.

kids in classroomTeachers know which families support their children’s learning — and which do not. That’s because it shows up in the classroom every day through students’ work and the stories they tell. Just as your kids talk about school at home, children come to school innocently sharing stories about what mom or dad said about school, homework and teachers. And research shows, not surprisingly, that teachers have higher expectations for students whose parents are involved in their child’s education in productive ways.

Here are four ways you can show respect for and build a positive relationship with your child’s teacher:

1. Do your part: Teachers need your help with the basics and get frustrated when that doesn’t happen: Fill out school forms before the deadline – teachers and schools need this information to connect with your child; read the teacher’s newsletter so you know what’s going on in the classroom; get your kids to school on time every day; and fuel their little brains and bodies for learning. Make sure your children get 10-11 hours of sleep and eat a healthy breakfast every morning (protein, healthy carbs and less sugar) so they can concentrate, process and retrieve information for six and a half hours.  Sleep and diet impact your child’s behavior and learning more than most of us realize. Teachers notice and appreciate when parents prioritize these basic needs.

2. Connect with your child’s reading and homework: 

dad reading kids

Teachers also know which parents are reading with their kids and supporting homework in productive ways. One of the greatest gifts you can give your children(and their teachers) is reading to, with or in front of them throughout their elementary years. Finding just 15 minutes to read every day influences your child in many ways. Read the class newsletter or website so you can reinforce at home what your kids are learning at school. Make sure homework is done, but don’t do it yourself – or correct it. Homework helps teachers identify which kids understand the material and which need a reteach.

3. Communicate effectively: Everything you write or say to your child’s teacher either strengthens or weakens the bridge you’re building. How you communicate with teachers plays a big role in whether your concerns are heard — and how quickly they are addressed. Use my Power of P3 to keep messages focused and productive. Start out on a Positive note whether you’re communicating via note, email, phone or in person. Be Professional (polite and respectful in your observations and feelings) and Persistent when needed. Discuss difficult issues on the phone or in parent-teacher conferences, not via P3email. And never go over the teacher’s head without letting him or her know you plan to do so. It’s not always easy to follow P3, especially if you feel frustrated about your child’s situation. But when blame and accusations seep into your communication, teachers will defend their actions rather than respond to your concerns.

4. Say “thank you” in words and actions: With higher standards, new teacher evaluations, and endless testing, teachers are under a lot of pressure today. Acknowledge and support their efforts by sending a thank-you note or saying thanks when you see them. Even better, have your child write a thank-you note. If you can, send in materials when teachers ask for them. Most teachers spend their own money on classroom supplies and appreciate whatever parents can give. And if you do have the time to volunteer in the classroom or at school, be as helpful as you can.

Showing up for conferences and volunteering in the classroom are important, but need to be combined with the above to build a positive relationship with your child’s teacher. And the beginning of a new school year is a perfect time to start.

(This article was written by ML Nichols and published in Books for Better Living on August 14, 2013)

Come Celebrate!

Parent Backpack 2 coverIt’s a book launch party –

The Parent Backpack for Kindergarten through Grade 5

FRIDAY, AUGUST 9th at 7:00pm at Westwinds Bookshop in Duxbury, MA – in partnership with the Duxbury Free Library

 No registration required. Hope to see you there!

Order The Parent Backpack in paperback or e-book today

 
 
 

 

The Parent Backpack Released!

launch photo with kids
It’s here!

The Parent Backpack for Kindergarten through Grade 5 is now available wherever books are sold – in print or ebook.

Here’s what other authors of parenting books are saying:

“This is a smart, wise, and practical book every parent of a young child should own. Read this beautifully composed trove of well sorted advice and enjoy with confidence your child’s elementary education.”

–Edward Hallowell, MD, best selling author of Driven to Distraction and The Childhood Roots of Adult Happiness [Read more...]

Countdown to Launch Date

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The countdown is on! Seven days until The Parent Backpack for Kindergarten through Grade 5 is released. The books have shipped . . . and mine just arrived. [Read more...]

School Buses & Seat Belts

bus with kids in backIt’s the question new parents with incoming kindergartners ask more than any other.

“Why aren’t there seat belts on school buses? Is my child safe?”

It’s a logical question. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends – and many states now require – booster seats in cars until a child is 4 ft. 9 in. and at least eight years old. That’s second or third grade for most kids. So why aren’t seat belts required on school buses? [Read more...]

Kindergarten Checklist

The to-do lists look similar – fill out forms, get school supplies, try on clothes, wonder how they got so big so fast, buy new shoes, get ready for Welcome Day – but the emotions change daily.

No matter how excited your child appears to be for Kindergarten – or how ready you think you are – it’s a big milestone for kids and parents. [Read more...]

Understanding that Kindergarten – Grade 5 Journey

With Kindergarten Sign-ups and Orientations filling up calendars across the country, I thought I’d take a moment to share some perspective that I wish I had when my oldest daughter entered Kindergarten. And if you’re a parent with older kids still trying to make sense of it all, it’s never too late. [Read more...]

Full Day Kindergarten Fuels Redshirting

Oh those unlucky summer birthdays. Kids born in June, July and August when the Kindergarten cut off is September 1st. Doomed to become the youngest, smallest and most likely to be behind academically or athletically. [Read more...]