1. Help the teacher get to know your child
Early in the school year, when you have a moment during drop-off or check-in or during a parent-teacher conference, tell the teacher a few things about your family to help her get to know you and your child better. Tell her about your child’s interests (“She loves animals”), challenges (“He’s great at puzzles but gets upset if he can’t finish one”), and any other issues that may cause problems at school (“My child has trouble sharing”).
2. Share important information
Some parents don’t like to share personal information about their child. But remember: When a teacher knows more about your child’s fears and challenges, as well as any learning disabilities or health issues such as allergies, she can help your child. Be sure to tell her about any changes in your family (like a death or divorce), as these could well affect your child’s behavior at school.
3. Keep in touch regularly
Ask the teacher how she prefers to communicate: email, phone calls, or even a notebook that goes back and forth between home and school. Feel free to get in touch with her whenever you have a question or concern.
4. Check in with the teacher
If you regularly pick up or drop off your child at school, take a minute to check in with the teacher every few weeks. The beginning and end of the school day tend to be busy times, so don’t expect a long chat. Instead, simply offer a detail about your child (“My daughter loved the clay project”), ask a question (“Is he washing his hands now after going to the bathroom?”), or just say hello and ask how things have been going. If you have issues that take more time to discuss, save them for a check-in via email or phone or the next parent-teacher conference.
5. Help your child learn at home
There may be no better way to partner with your child’s teacher than to maintain a strong learning environment at home. Check in with the teacher a few times during the school year to ask what you can do at home to support the work your child is doing in school. Working with your child at home helps him understand that home and school are connected. It will also give you insight into how he learns, which will help you and the teacher best support your child.
6. Help out at school
Volunteer to come in and help out in the classroom. Between work and home life, many parents don’t have much spare time. But even if you only volunteer for an hour here and there over the year — driving on a field trip, doing a special in-class project, or reading a book during story time — you’ll get a much better sense of the teacher, the work your child is doing, and how he fits in with the class. And by lending a hand at school, you’re letting your child know that you think school is important.
7. Ask the magic question
Finally, one simple question can work magic to make the parent-teacher bond strong: Ask the teacher “How can I help?” This makes her feel she has a partner working to help your child succeed. She may even tell you ways you can support your child’s education at home and help him come to school ready to learn.