Want your kiddo to get to the head of the class this year? You’re going to have to stay in contact with her teacher.
Your child’s teacher plays a major role in her education, but she can’t do it alone. You have to work together to make sure he’s getting everything he can out of the school year. You’ll need to touch base as frequently as possible, and not just when there’s a problem.
Don’t be afraid to reach out just to check in. Your child’s teacher will be happy to tell you what he’s excelling in, as well as where he needs work. She also may be able to fill you in on any social challenges your child may be experiencing — not something kids are always eager to share with mom and dad.
Teachers know frequent communication isn’t something that’s easily done when your schedule is packed. Thankfully, there’s more than one way to stay in contact.
Email is probably one of the more convenient ways to stay in contact, since you can sit down and write one any time of the day.
Fortunately, the teachers we spoke with voted unanimously for email as their favorite form of communication with parents. “Email, email, email!” says middle-school teacher Mandy Barkhurst. “Most everyone gets them on their phones and can respond quickly.”
Goddard School Director Coleen Barber agrees. “Emails! It’s great, too, because of the paper trail, as well as time stamps.”
You may not have to look any farther than your school’s website to find an easy way to communicate with your child’s teacher.
“Quite a few schools now have a teacher portal on their websites where they can post homework and grades,” says Barber. Some of those portals also give parents the option to send private messages to the teacher.
Drop-off and pick-up
If you really want some face-to-face time with your child’s teacher, don’t be afraid to show up when you drop off or pick your child up from school. Just try to keep those conversations short. At the beginning of the school day, teachers are anxious to get class started. At the end of the day, they’re ready to wrap up and go home.
Set up a meeting
If you’re in need of a longer sit-down with your child’s teacher, set up a meeting. Most teachers would be happy to set aside a chunk of time in their day to speak with a parent.
It may sound like an ancient form of communication, but teachers do still speak to parents on the phone. It’s not easy to catch them during the day, but if you leave a message, they’ll always call you back.
If there’s something you want your child’s teacher to know — maybe he’s been sick or had a hard time with homework last night — don’t be afraid to jot down a quick note and attach it to homework or ask your child to hand it in. Unfortunately, this usually only works with younger children. The older kids aren’t as likely to actually hand over your note.
Have you considered volunteering as a room mom? Room moms volunteer to spend time helping students with classwork, supervising lunch and snack time, running copies for the teacher and just filling in wherever they need an extra hand. It’ll keep you busy, but it’ll also give you a lot of time with teacher’s ear. As an added bonus, you’ll get to witness your little one’s performance and at-school behavior firsthand.
Most teachers aren’t going to be very excited about friending the parents of students on Facebook, but they may have social networking accounts set up specifically for parents. “We use Twitter and I have a private Instagram account that parents can use,” says teacher Rachel Owens.
Teacher Rian Burnett is also a fan of using the internet to connect. “I used to have a Shutterfly account that parents could join, see pics and updates and such,” she says. “They could also send messages to other parents and myself through there.”
When in doubt, ask your child’s teacher what the best way to keep in touch with her is. Most teachers will jump for joy that a parent wants to be connected, and she’ll do whatever she can to make it as easy as possible. Some have designed ways to make connecting as easy as possible for parents.
“We have agenda books that students write their daily assignments in. I check every morning to see that parents have signed it. I also use it to communicate with parents by jotting a short note or stapling in that dreaded bad behavior note,” says teacher Stephanie Mayle.
The bottom line is, communicating with your child’s teacher on a daily basis is important, and there are many ways to do it. Find a way that suits you best and get in touch, even if just to say “hello.” Forging a relationship with the teacher is a great step, because she’ll feel much more comfortable speaking with you if an issue arises.