With a new school year upon us, kids and parents are preparing to make new friends, set new goals and meet new teachers. Your child’s teacher is one of the people, aside from you, who will probably have the most significant impact on your son or daughter, so it makes sense to talk about how to relate to this authority figure.
There are some simple steps you can take to help your child made a positive impression on his teacher right from the start. Doing so may not help when it comes to grades, but a positive relationship with her teacher will definitely make the school year a more pleasant one for the entire family.
Look for opportunity
Depending on your child’s age, an in-depth discussion about how to relate to the teacher, or even why it’s important to do so, may be over his head. Allow your son or daughter to initiate the conversation without even knowing it.
Dr. Elizabeth Berger, child psychiatrist and author of Raising Kids with Character, says, “The best way for parents to communicate their ideas is at the moment when the youngster had expressed an interest in the subject — so that the parents’ input comes at the time when the child is especially keen on hearing it.”
Pay attention to how your child reacts to the prospect of school and take advantage of the chance to expand on the concept. “A child who is getting psychologically geared up for the new school year might make some remark like, ‘Gosh — I hope my new teacher likes me!’ ” says Berger. “The parent’s wise advice then is likely to be a welcome reassurance as well as a useful guide of how to make this happen.”
Your child’s specific personality, development and age will determine your exact course of action — and only you know your child best. However, there are some universal truths that you can share with your little one to help her make a good impression at school. “Parents should reinforce the idea that school is there so that the child can learn, and that teachers help children learn even if they are not perfect at all times,” says Berger. “So the idea that there might be some minor annoyances in school, and that the parent understands this and encourages the child to feel hopeful about the overall goal nevertheless (i.e. learning) is a worthy idea parents can communicate to their offspring, and one that will help the child to be an asset in the classroom.”
Sometimes kids get the feeling that only the intellectually gifted are celebrated in the classroom. With this in mind, some may feel that making a good impression on a teacher is contingent on perfect grades. Parents can debunk this myth with a little encouragement and a healthy dose of truth. “Parents can reinforce the idea that teachers love a math genius, but that not every child is a math genius — and that teachers love even more a child who is kind and helpful and empathic to the teacher and the other students in the classroom,” says Berger. “Unlike the math genius, every child can achieve this goal.”
The best way for your child to make a good impression is to show his teacher respect. This is a concept that can be easily communication to kids of all ages. “Being a good classroom citizen is hard work, and it is very different from being a math genius,” says Berger. “It involves the self-discipline of not losing one’s temper, not clowning, not getting into mischief, and not doing a thousand things which all children — and in fact all adults — must actively resist.” Show your child that you can relate to the difficulties associated with self-restraint and discipline, but at the same time, let them in on the benefits as well. “By being a good citizen, the student can be sure of not only ‘making a good impression’ but actively helping the teacher — and earning the teacher’s genuine gratitude and appreciation.”