Four Ways To Build A Strong Relationship With Your Child’s Teacher
Do you wish you could have a better relationship with your child's teacher? The way forward is for parents and teachers to work together, so that the child ultimately benefits.
By Maya Thiagarajan
When Sarita walked into her daughter’s parent-teacher meeting, she could feel her heart rate accelerate. Her hands felt clammy as she greeted the teacher. Priya’s teacher had told her that she was lagging in reading skills, and that she suspected the child might have ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). The mother felt nervous — what would the teacher say now about Priya? But she was also really angry — how dare this teacher evaluate her daughter like this? Did the teacher really know the child and what she was capable of? Did she even care?
Sarita is not alone as a parent in thinking like this. Many parents have mixed emotions about their children’s teachers. When a child is struggling at school for any reason, parents often tend to blame the teachers. In turn, the teacher gets on the defensive and ends up looking at parents as part of the problem.
The key to resetting this dynamic, I believe, is to realise that parents and teachers are working together towards a common goal — the well-being and growth of the child.
How to build a strong parent-teacher partnership
Here are some tips to help you navigate conversations with your child’s teacher:
1. Remind yourself that this is a partnership
If you start to think of your child’s teacher as a partner who shares your goals — your child’s all-round healthy growth and development — then you can approach her with a sense of trust and respect. Most teachers care deeply about their students and want them to succeed. Think positively and treat your child’s teacher like a valuable partner who can work closely with you to help her flourish.
2. Realise that your child’s teacher is a professional
Your child’s teacher has the experience of working with hundreds or thousands of children during her career, and this has given her a very wide frame of reference. And also a better perspective on what benefits a child. So, when she makes observations about your child or offers you advice, try to listen with an open mind. Let go of your defensiveness and try to see where the teacher is coming from.
3. Remember that teachers are human too!
If you are accusatory or angry with someone, chances are they will react defensively. This is as true of teachers as it is of anyone else. If you want a productive conversation that will ultimately benefit your child, don’t criticise, attack, or accuse your child’s teacher. If there is an issue, tell the teacher that you are anxious about your child, and then share your concerns in an honest and respectful way. Together, you can then work to come up with a plan that will benefit your child.
4. Don’t be overprotective
Realise that it’s healthy for kids to experience failure when they’re young. It builds resilience and an ability to cope with life. Accept that your child’s teacher knows this. Hence, don’t sabotage her ability to develop resilience, coping skills, and self-advocacy skills by always jumping in and doing everything for her or coming to her rescue at the slightest sign of distress. If the child doesn’t get selected for a play or a team, for example, don’t argue with the teacher about it or get upset. Your child will only learn and grow through these experiences.
Your relationship with your child’s teacher has a profound effect on her education and learning. So, follow these steps to build a strong and a healthy parent–teacher partnership.
Maya Thiagarajan is an educator and author. She is the director of TREE, an organisation that recruits and trains teachers.
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