5 Things Your Kid's Teacher Needs from You
Teachers have a deep appreciation for parents who really listen to their
opinions and consider their expertise, especially when it comes to bad news.
You don't want to believe that your child would ever push another child
on purpose, but that might be exactly what happened. "Teachers witness
behavior and social interactions that parents often don't see," says Nancy
Martin, a preschool teacher in San Mateo, CA.
If the teacher's telling you something about your kid that's upsetting, keep
your cool. "A lot of parents' knee-jerk reaction to negative news about
their kid is to call the principal or show up at the school angry, but that's
the wrong thing to do," says Edward Reid, an elementary school counselor in
Worcester County, MD. "Most teachers want to work with you, but calling the
principal — their boss — first sends the message that you don't really trust
them." In fact, Kennon McDonough, a school consultant to San Francisco Bay
Area preschools, recommends actually thanking the teacher for sharing upsetting
news. "While it's hard to take, it is additional information that may help
your kid in the long run," she says. And even if you don't ultimately agree
with the teacher's opinion, you'll have increased her trust in you simply by
listening and considering what she's shared with you.
You may think it's enough to just sign off on permission slips and report
cards, but communication about your kid's health, happiness, and progress needs
to flow both ways. Most teachers are shocked at how little parents share about
what's happening at home. "If there's an illness or a crisis going on, your
child's teacher needs to know about it because it may explain why your child
isn't behaving well or performing academically," says McDonough. But don't
wait for a crisis to connect with your kid's teacher; you can share the
positive developments, too, such as how well he's doing with his piano lessons
or how he's taken to reading the Harry Potter series. "The more you can
paint a true and full picture of who your child is, the more it helps the
teacher," McDonough says. And keeping connected doesn't mean you have to
schedule a conference or a special phone call. "I really love e-mail. It's
a great way to bridge home and school," says Martin. "I'll regularly
e-mail parents just to share some of our classroom experiences."