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Health & Parenting

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5 Things Your Kid's Teacher Needs from You

WebMD Feature from "Redbook" Magazine

By Amy C. Balfour

Redbook Magazine Logo

The best way to ensure your child has a successful school year? Cultivate a positive relationship with her teacher.

Sneakers are tied, cowlicks are tamed, and a morning snack is tucked safely inside the backpack. Your smiling, well-scrubbed child seems happy, poised, and ready to meet his teacher. The question is, are you? Should you mention that patch of poison ivy creeping up his elbow? What about those medical forms — admit that you lost them? And what if your boss calls while you're powwowing — should you take the call? It's no wonder you're nervous: Your kid's teacher is the one person who spends almost as much time with your child as you do, so you want to make a positive connection. Apples, shmapples — there are five core values that will make or break your bond with your kid's teacher. Here's how to understand and maximize them.

1. Engagement

It may sound obvious, but participating in your kid's education, even minimally, can do wonders. "Children whose parents are involved with their education generally tend to be less disruptive in class," says Reg Weaver, president of the National Education Association. Your involvement also shows the teacher that you support her role in educating your child.

How engaged should you be? First and foremost, be sure that your child makes homework a daily priority — over sports and clubs. "Teachers see the completion of homework as the number one factor in making a child's academic life easier from kindergarten through college," says Marcia Maloni, Ph.D., a psychologist in Pittsburgh who specializes in parent/teacher relations. Also, don't skip the school's open house, even if it's your kid's third or fourth year there. "Parents probably think these events are boring," says Maloni, "but you'll learn what's required of your child, what the school's resources are, and what opportunities are available." Another great way to make an impact is to attend a few PTA meetings. "I work with our PTA to plan programs and to see what teachers' needs are," says mom Leigh Casarotti, 36, of Richmond, VA. "I'm participating in my daughter's education in a positive way and I think that her teachers feel like I'm on their side." Too busy for the PTA? "Even a small contribution to the classroom goes a long way," says Molly Baker, an elementary school teacher in York, SC. Ask the teacher if there's something she can use, such as tissues, pencils, erasers, or crayons.

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