Now that school’s been in session for several months, our kids are definitely more comfortable with their teachers, new friends, and hopefully their more structured routines. After- school activities, sporting events, play dates, andhomework are the norm now and memories of the lazy days of summer vacation are tucked far away.
Many schools have parent/teacher conferences as the first semester wraps up, so now is a great time to evaluate how things are going with your child’s school life. Mighty Mommy shares six ways to stay connected with your child’s teacher and school as we prepare for a new calendar year and the second half of the school term.
Tip #1: Check in Mid -Year
I always make it a point to introduce myself to my kid’s teachers or teaching teams at the beginning of the school year. I generally do this via an e-mail to the teacher or team and let them know I’m excited my child will be in their particular classroom/team for that school year and offer my cooperation to work together with them throughout the year. This includes giving them my e-mail and best phone numbers where I can be reached. I also offer up any tid-bits about my child’s personality and learning style so they can glean an understanding as to why my son or daughter learns the way he/she does.
Now that the dust has settled and the kids have been back in class for nearly four months, take a few minutes to reconnect with your child’s teacher. Send an e-mail or leave a phone message letting your teacher know you are simply checking in and want to touch base to see how everything is going. Chances are no news is good news, but it doesn’t hurt to keep the lines of communication open, even if just to say you’re pleased with how a particular subject is going. The more you get to know your child’s teacher early on, if and when a concern does crop up, you’ve already cultivated a relationship, which can definitely help ease a difficult situation between your child and his teacher.
Tip #2: Stay Involved
Once the initial back-to-school events are over, be sure and stay involved. Make a point to show up and participate in events, such as the annual science fair, the school carnival, and holiday food drives, as well as supporting your school’s major fundraisers.
Be on time, be positive, and be prepared for school activities and meetings. Today’s technological world provides plenty of opportunities to connect with your child’s school and teacher(s). Email, websites, online “gradebook” programs that allow you to track and monitor your child’s work/grades, and the good old telephone help you stay in touch with your child’s progress and her teacher.
Offer to volunteer your time in the classroom or as a chaperone on class trips.
Consider donating classroom supplies or a gift certificate to a store where teachers can purchase materials for the classroom. (You’d be surprised how many supplies teachers buy with their own money!) Having a physical presence in your child’s school community, regardless of whether it’s Kindergarten or High School promotes how important your child’s education and school experience is to you as the parent.
Tip #3: Join the PTA/PTO
Dozens of research studies show that when parents get involved, children do better in school. If your school has a Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) or Parent Teacher Association (PTA), you might consider attending the next meeting. The PTO knows what’s happening with the school, who’s involved, and usually plans many of the events so by joining or even attending a few meetings a year you will be in the know. In addition, by being part of the local PTO, in most cases, make your kids proud of you. They may not admit it (they may even grumble), but they will feel proud that their parents are involved in improving their school’s well-being. I have been involved in my kid’s PTO for over 15 years now. I’ve made many close friendships through the school and have met lots of students that I wouldn’t have otherwise. When I go out in the community and a student recognizes and greets me, I feel good but my kids really feel great about that. By becoming a PTO member, you’re also becoming a role model and demonstrating to your child the importance you place on education as well as on being involved in their world.
Tip #4: Social Network Sites
Social networks are a fantastic way for people to stay connected, and that includes teachers and parents. Teachers don’t have to friend the parents of students on their personal Facebook accounts, but many teachers have created “school accounts” that offer the latest happenings in their classrooms as well as upcoming events and important dates, etc. That goes for Twitter and Instagram accounts as well.
If your teacher or school is on the cutting edge of social media sites, don’t be shy and join in. Even if you don’t want to actively participate you can be an observant bystander and at least be tuned in to the latest news.
Tip #5: Ask Your Child for Input
I’m a firm believer in asking your child for their direct input on how things are going in school.
I’m a firm believer in asking your child for their direct input on how things are going in school. Sure, some kids are going to poo poo it and either say everything’s fine or simply don’t want to dredge up anything that might not be going well, but chances are if you consistently communicate with your student to find out what subjects he’s really interested in and which ones might not be going as planned you’ll uncover some interesting info about how she really feels.
In fact, your child can probably also shed light on how the relationship between she and her teachers truly does stand. At this mid-point in the school year, if there are any personality conflicts or other sources of tension, you can reach out in a friendly manner to see if you can help course-correct the situation.
Tip #6: Show Appreciation
One of the easiest and most heartfelt ways to show your appreciation and stay connected to all the important teachers in your life is to simply say “thank you.” Send them an e-mail letting them know how much they mean to your family; pick up the phone and ask them to return your call. He/she will be so surprised when they call you back and you say that you’re calling to say “thanks for all you do during the year.” Mail a card or note of appreciation to school (people still love a thoughtful piece of snail mail!).
We were brought up with a mantra that I have passed along to my 8 kids—“You get more with honey than you do with vinegar.” Bottom line is that teachers are human beings, just like us, and the majority of people I know prefer to be treated with kindness than with sarcasm or contentiousness. If you take a few minutes, a few times a year to let your teaching staff know how important they are to you and your family, you will be laying a solid foundation of goodwill and trust for both the difficult and rewarding times your child will experience throughout the school year.