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Health & Parenting

5 Things Your Kid's Teacher Needs from You

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2. Trust

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.

3. Communication

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."

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