Parents and teachers share a common goal: to help children grow, develop and be happy human beings. When the teacher-parent connection is solid, the relationship is magic. These ways in which parents and teachers can work together and support one another are surefire ways for an unbeatable school year.
Benefits of Parents and Teachers Working Together
There are countless benefits to a positive teacher-parent relationship. When these important people in a child's life have a positive, working relationship, children benefit greatly, and so do the adults.
Benefits for Children
The overall experiences of kids are optimized when the adults in their lives have positive and productive relationships.
- Improved academics in children
- Better social and emotional well-being
- Improved attitudes about school in children
Benefits for Teachers
Teachers can shift their focus and tailor their teaching better when the parent-teacher relationship is strong.
- Ability to spend more time on teaching curriculum
- Ability to meet student needs readily with a better understanding of the home environment
Benefits for Parents
Parents also come out as winners when they have a working relationship with educators in their children's lives.
- Comprehensive understanding regarding what their child is learning and what they need
- Grow more confident in aiding their children on their educational journey
- Ability to assist children in the home environment to better support children educationally
- Create consistency between home and school
Smart Ways Parents and Teachers Can Be an Unstoppable Team
The many benefits of a solid parent-teacher relationship make creating one a bit of a no-brainer, but how do you get there? These smart ways to build that home-school bond will ensure that everyone is working together as a team for the greater good of all involved.
Make Yourself Approachable
All parties need to make themselves approachable. Standoffish behavior, whether that be through words or actions, should be avoided. When parents and teachers have conversations, refrain from crossing arms, frowning, eye-rolling, or refusing to make eye contact. Tuck cell phones away during these engagements, as checking them can give the impression of distractibility and disinterest.
Keep your tone level. Do not yell, cry, or become emotionally charged. When you feel yourself becoming agitated, take a few deep breaths before speaking.
Stay in Constant Contact
Once you establish initial contact, you need to keep the relationship moving forward. Keeping the contact alive and well between home and school can be tricky, as people become so busy and life pulls everyone in various directions. If you are struggling to keep the relationship thriving, try the following means of connecting:
- Weekly emails or phone calls (daily if behaviors or academic issues are severe)
- Folders that contain important notes, information, and student work that move from home to school daily
- Parent-teacher conferences throughout the year
Other ways that the school can communicate with parents and caregivers might include:
- Weekly newsletters
- Annual open houses or community events
- Curriculum nights
- Cultural nights
- Home visits when applicable
Create Consistency Between Home and School
Children need consistency in their lives to build stability and trust. Parents and teachers need to stay consistent in their communication and in what they have agreed to do to help the child. Everyone in this relationship is a stakeholder, and when expectations are laid and responsibilities are delegated, all adult parties need to execute the tasks they agreed to consistently.
When There Is a Problem, Address It
Not speaking up for your needs and holding thoughts and feelings inside will quickly create anger and resentment. When teachers or parents see an issue brewing, it is best to nip it in the bud and discuss it immediately. Addressing problems and concerns with your student's parent or your child's teacher might be an uncomfortable situation, but it is the only way that things will get worked out and resolved.
Be Empathetic to Each Other
Parents have their own uphill battles to face every day and so do teachers. If a parent-teacher relationship is going to be a positive one, then both parties need to remain empathetic towards one another. Take the time to step into each other's shoes and try to understand where the person you are building the relationship with is coming from. While you might have varying viewpoints on many things, recognizing those differences, appreciating and considering them, and respecting them are crucial to growing a working relationship. Create a toolbox of empathetic speech. Include phrases like:
- I hear what you are saying
- What I am hearing you say is
- I understand what you are saying
- That must be really difficult for you
- I am so sorry that you are going through that
- Thank you for bringing this up with me
Actively Listen to What the Other Person Is Saying
It is important to train yourself to be a good listener, especially when that is not your go-to move. Work on your listening skills productively.
- Hold back from jumping in and talking when the teacher (or parent) is speaking.
- After you pose a question, give ample time for the person you are speaking with to respond. Some people take longer to process and formulate responses.
- Request clarity when needed. If you don't understand something, ask questions.
- Keep posture and tone neutral.
When All Else Fails, Call in the Troops
If you both have tried to create a productive relationship with all of your might, but you still can not get on the same page, then call in the cavalry. Sometimes a third-party person is required to help the parent-teacher relationship be a productive one. School principals, counselors, or designated advocated might serve as options here.
Keep Your Eyes on the Prize
Even when parents and teachers don't see eye to eye, their common overall goal is likely very similar. Both parties live to help, teach, and nurture children. If you can not agree on anything else, agree on your purpose, and the purpose of parents and teachers is to support their students. Even when things seem rocky, work together as best you can to help those who matter most: the kids.