The new school year is on the horizon. Between multiple trips to various different office stores to get the exact clear, zip-up folder, the experience of the crowds on tax-free weekend, and the run-throughs of a school morning routine, a plan to get to know your kid’s teacher might fall somewhere towards the bottom of your list.
I know this because that’s where it sat for me last August. When my daughter started kindergarten, I knew it was important to be involved in her education, but honestly, it took me a few months to figure it all out. I was a little nervous at the beginning of the year when it came to talking, calling or emailing (is it too much, is it not enough?) my daughter’s teacher.
But I learned an open line of communication with the adult who will spend more time with my scholar besides my husband and I is a number one priority. I learned we don’t have to spend money on gifts and treats for the teacher (although they are always appreciated!) to get the conversation started.
A communication game plan is essential. A 2014 study done by the Harvard Kennedy School on the under-utilized potential of the teacher-parent relationship found that, “providing parents on a weekly basis with a one-sentence message from teachers about their children’s schoolwork increases students’ academic success.” This seems obvious. What gets overlooked is that teachers don’t usually have the time or resources to reach out to every parent on a weekly basis. Not that they don’t want to, but because they’ve got busy lives—families and kids of their own!
While the information has to come from the teacher, the line of communication can start with you. If you have clear goals and education milestones, it’s easier to help your kid at home. If you are on the same page as your kid’s educator, it’s easier to nip problems in the bud.
Read on for five easy ways to get to know your kid’s teacher.
1. Reach out via email.
Without a doubt, this is the easiest way to connect. You probably spend a large part of your day on the computer, so when that first “Welcome Back!” email hits your inbox, press reply and respond. If, for some reason you don’t get an email, take the first step and reach out on your own.
2. Go to all the parent/teacher events.
Back to School night, teacher conference, Open House, Science Night, PTA meetings, Book Fair: there are plenty of opportunities to see and speak to your kid’s teacher in a fun and open environment. As parents, adults, and professionals we all get busy, but just make the time to attend each and every event. It’s a great way to start a conversation.
3. Offer to help in the classroom.
This option works well for stay-at-home and work-from-home parents, or parents with a flexible schedule. So if that’s you, reach out and see if you can help in the classroom! As kids get older, there’s not as much time for hands-on help, but teachers still need assistance with projects, photocopies, and other tasks.
4. Ask for a weekly update.
You can request an update via phone, email, text or take-home note. A phone call is probably the hardest for a teacher, but it can happen. Emails, texts and notes are easier; each option will keep give you updates on the progress of your child. It feels good to enter a parent conference with an open mind and clear understanding of where your kid stands.
5. Connect on social media.
Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat etc, is probably my least favorite way to connect with an educator. You may not want your kid’s teacher to see all your pictures, posts and opinions and vise versa. You may not post all the time and feel totally okay with “friending” him or her. Or, after a few months you may feel it’s appropriate to accept their friend request when it pops up. It depends on your level of comfort.
Need other ways to prepare for Back to School?
Check out Amanda’s post on A New Mom’s Guide to Kindergarten.
Read Sally’s post that includes Tips for Parents of Elementary School Students from a Former kindergarten Teacher.
How will you make a connection with your kid’s teacher this year? Share with us in a comment below.