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Five Back-To-School Tips Teachers Want Every Parent to Know

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Parent- teacher partnerships are important for both parents and teachers. They can help parents better understand their child’s academic progress and areas for improvement, and help teachers get a more personal picture of a student and find out what motivates him or her.

Striking the right balance in the partnership isn’t always easy, but there are simple ways to make it work and put teachers’ and parents’ minds at ease. So here is a list of my very own “Hines’s Helpful Hints” for parents, which I use to help all of my students’ parents start the year out on the right foot:

1. Don’t be shy!

Get to know the teachers, beyond the quick drop-off of school supplies. Shockingly, a lot of parents make the assumption that they have to wait until the first day of school, or the first parent-teacher conference to start forming a relationship with the teacher. This is not the case. If they have the time, parents can make a quick appointment to meet with the teacher and see how they can work together. If that isn’t possible, brief, informative phone calls also work, in which parents and teachers can discuss a child’s needs, personal quirks, and anything else that parents want to share.

2. Be involved, but not overbearing.

Nerves are normal for everyone – students, teachers, and parents.  But parents have to resist the urge to control every detail of their children’s education. This is especially true for parents with more than one child, who are used to being very involved with their children’s classroom affairs. Students need the chance to learn how to grow and thrive, both inside and outside the classroom, which means they need the opportunity to make their own decisions and do things independently, even when they are struggling. If students become accustomed to having decisions made for them or not experiencing productive struggle, when it comes time to be more independent – when taking tests, or verbally communicating their needs, for example – they will panic. Parents of older children should trust them as well. Children will make mistakes from time to time but that is simply a part of learning and growing. After all, that is what they are in school for.

3. Check in with them after school.

Parents need to be hands-on, especially during the child’s developmental stages. It’s important for students to learn the responsibility of home-school communications, and have their take-home folders signed and their conduct or grades acknowledged outside of school. This sends the message that school is valued at home, and helps prevent the student from easily falling behind on classroom material. Underlying issues such as a child simply “acting up,” or “not trying” can get addressed when a parent is informed about their child’s education. This leads me to my next point.

4. Track their progress.

Once you have addressed your child’s initial classroom behaviors and patterns and talked with the teacher about the academic goals for the year, be sure to track his or her progress throughout the school year. Neither a parent, nor a teacher wants to see a student start failing tests or exhibiting negative behaviors out of frustration because he or she is not getting the help needed.

5. Continue learning at home.

One way to encourage growth in a child at home is to reinforce what is learned in school. For instance, practicing important skills at home can help a child who doesn’t know their alphabet not only learn his ABC’s, but also learn to write his or her name and read complete sentences. Or it could help a child who nervously lashes out in class learn how to effectively communicate their feelings.

Although the above tips are not one size fits all, they are simple ways parents can begin the school year with a strong and meaningful relationship with the teacher. This will lead to more positive communications throughout the year and help parents be more informed and prepared to support their child at home and partner with the teacher to ensure the school year is a success!

Candace Hines is a Kindergarten teacher Tennessee, where she has taught for the last 7 years. She has served as a Regional Presenter, training teachers across various districts and is an EdReports content reviewer and a facilitator for Teach Plus Memphis, leading their Teacher-Led Professional Learning Network.