How to establish a healthy parent-teacher relationship

It takes a village to educate a child. There is no doubt that this African proverb resonates deeply in the actual school setting. Schools may be responsible for providing the curriculum, programs, and specific activities that provide the necessary competencies that students need to achieve, but the process of effective learning is a two-way street that requires the involvement of both teachers and parents. Hence, a healthy parent-teacher relationship should be built right from the start.

As research would tell us, family involvement in a child’s education has long been recognized to influence academic success and other critical development factors. Thereby a positive and solid parent-teacher partnership can save a child from a debilitating scholastic experience and increase the likelihood of above-average academic performance. In this post, we will discuss practical ways to build a healthy parent-teacher relationship from the standpoint of both roles.

What Parents Can Do

  1.   Maintain an open line of communication.

No committed partnership can ever be formed without proper communication. As a parent, it is essential that you are in frequent contact with the teacher and not just during specific circumstances. It is less ideal to have parents collaborate with teachers only when the student has gotten poor grades or had a challenging demeanor in the classroom. Participating during parent-teacher conferences is a key step. It is absolutely important to get a better picture of your child’s academic status and overall classroom behavior. It is also an effective means of knowing the teacher well. Replying to circulars and other forms of communication, especially those which require immediate attention, should always be accomplished. It allows you to be always updated with what is happening in the school or in the class. More than responding to school events and letters sent by teachers and administration, as a parent, it is pivotal to let teachers know that your communication line is always open.

  1.   Choose the right words.

Over the last decade, cases of a rift between parents and teachers have become common. However, instead of finding solutions to these problems, the situation escalates further into catastrophe. To put it in this perspective, securing a healthy parent-teacher relationship means managing one’s emotions. In this sense, it is vital to always be wise in addressing circumstances that involve your child. And as we know, you can always catch more flies with honey than vinegar. That is to say, kinder words lead to better solutions as opposed to offensive words and phrases.

  1.  Understand the intentions and expectations of the teachers.

Communication is not simply voicing out your concerns. A lot of its work requires intentional listening to get a glimpse of the speaker’s perspective. Teachers are bound by curricular goals when it comes to implementing knowledge acquisition and skills transfer.  However, they also employ classroom management strategies and a whole lot of empathy and genuine care toward the students. These qualities are basically the foundation of why teachers are dubbed as a child’s second parent. To ensure that your child has the best classroom experience, it is critical to fully understand the teacher’s expectations and goals with regard to your child’s holistic development. But it doesn’t stop there yet. There should also be a workable plan in which you, as a parent, can contribute to the achievement of these goals. Ultimately, a healthy parent-teacher relationship also means knowing the strengths and weaknesses of your child through the eyes of the teacher and collaborating consistently to address the rooms for improvement.

  1.    Learn about school rules and regulations.

Parental involvement naturally means being able to know what rules, regulations, and policies govern your child’s school life. More often than not, when it comes to following these rules, parents tend to pass it on to teachers almost entirely. However, it is critical to remind and provide guidance especially to students who are having trouble following these rules and regulations. A clear discussion at home can strengthen how the child perceives the value of good deportment. In the spirit of having a healthy parent-teacher relationship, taking part in the implementation of the rules and regulations is vital to ensure that you will stay on the same page with that of the school.

  1.   Be open about issues that influence your child’s learning process.

Whether you like it or not, what happens at home will have an effect on a child’s disposition in school. Thereby, it is always helpful to let teachers know about problems that may disrupt the student’s learning. Although you can filter some details to protect your family’s privacy, a clear overview is enough for teachers to understand and respond properly to any changes in behavior. Remember, the goal of the teacher is to make sure that your child is well inside the classroom in all aspects possible. Having that in mind will also help you establish the necessary trust and faith that secures a healthy parent-teacher partnership.

What teachers can do

  1. Convey positive and polite energy.

As a teacher, your demeanor is always under the microscope. Whether you take it positively or otherwise, the reality is it is necessary to always create an atmosphere of trust, hence, how you carry yourself with parents matters. With this thought, ensure that you portray a positive and trustworthy character that parents and students alike can depend on. You can easily start this with polite greetings and essentially knowing the parents’ names. Avoid using phrases that could offend the parents and always make sure to pay attention during your exchange of conversations. Steer clear from making assumptions that encompass gender, ethnicity, or marital status.

  1.   Use the sandwich method of relaying feedback.

Providing feedback about a student’s academic performance or general conduct inside the classroom can be a challenge without the proper tool. A parent may feel proud or frustrated in the process, or even both. But the extent of these emotions depends on your delivery. The sandwich method of feedback has always been recommended in structuring commentaries that would allow the receiver to accept them easier. Basically, when conveying feedback, you begin with a positive one, followed by a critical negative report, and end strongly with another positive observation. Using this method would instill the idea that a child may have some shortcomings, but you don’t undermine the constructive observations. Parents tend to respond more optimistically in this type of structure. However, it is vital that you also deliver feedback with complete honesty and corresponding suggestions. Sugarcoating an observation often leads to inaction.

  1. Communicate on a regular basis.

Whether it’s via letter, email, or a phone call, secure that you always communicate the essential issues with the parents. Likewise, it also helps to remind parents of critical events and activities especially those that they can participate in. Good communication is a key foundation for a healthy parent-teacher relationship. Consistent communication also proves a teacher’s reliability. Informing the parents that their child is struggling academically at the beginning of the quarter or the semester is always better than letting them know when it’s almost too late.

  1.   Ask questions wisely.

Part of understanding student performance and behavior in school is knowing how similar or different the student is at home. Thereby, questions like “How is your son/daughter at home?”, or “What does he/she usually do during the weekend?”, are commonly asked by teachers. This is ultimately to find how factors like time management and environmental response affect the student. However, in raising questions it is best to keep it open-ended. Similarly, avoid asking unnecessary questions or those that may cause discomfort in the parents. It is highly discouraged to force specific details out. There is actually no need to be too personal and dig deeper into family secrets. Just focus on information that you can use to help the student.

  1.  Discuss specific ways that parents can help.

Collaboration takes place between the parents and the teacher when a feasible action is worked on by the two parties. It is one of the main features of a healthy parent-teacher partnership. In delivering observations, and feedback, it is always helpful to draw out recommendations on specific aspects of a child’s development that need improvement. These recommendations must fit the child’s circumstances and capabilities. In the same way, it is best to also solicit more suggestions from parents. By doing so, you underscore your mutual interest which is to ensure the child or student’s progress.

In a Nutshell

A strong parent-teacher relationship can be a deciding factor in the learning progression of a child. As a parent, it is of utmost importance to recognize your role in inspiring your children to take their education seriously without turning into a helicopter parent. Basically, this is when you get involved in even the most minute experience of the child. Likewise, teachers need to secure a good partnership with the parents to maximize their efforts in making sure that learning occurs among students. By the end of the day, it is the progress and the best interest of the child that matters. Thereby, playing these key roles is absolutely essential.  


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