Five Tips for Parents: Make this a successful year for your child

As the new school year settles in, parents should have a good idea of how the year has begun, where challenges might develop, and where adjustments or help might be needed. The following tips will help parents work with school staff to build a learning team dedicated to finding success for your child.

Tip 1: If you have not met with your child’s teacher, schedule a meeting now. Include any other staff members who interact regularly or who might be needed as resources. Don’t neglect including physical education teachers, enrichment teachers, or the principal. Each of these important people can add a dimension of both understanding and information about your child. Start off with an attitude of partnership, learning from each of them and letting them know you support them.

Tip 2: Share past school experiences. It is good for this year’s teacher(s) to know how your child has done in the past. Be sure to include extra help you have provided, especially if your child is currently working with a tutor or therapist. Let the teacher know how homework and studying is going. Emphasize what you have learned works well.

Tip 3: Elicit “extra” information. Teachers always know more than is typically shared in a meeting. Sometimes very valuable information relevant to social skills, general school behavior, learning strengths, and potential issues can be shared if the teacher trusts that you really want the information and that you will deal with it constructively. Teachers are often intuitive about children and are perfectly positioned to compare your child to the dozens, if not hundreds, they have taught. Putting your child into perspective can be very useful.

Tip 4: Stay in touch. Decide at the meeting how best to do this: notes, emails, texts, phone calls, or more meetings. Reassure the teacher that you want to head off problems while they are minor and you welcome her input. Let her know you will be respectful of her time away from school.

Tip 5: Show your appreciation. Teaching is not an easy job. It takes continual learning, lots of energy and patience, and dedication many jobs don’t require. Teachers make a vital difference in a child’s life. Let your child’s teacher know you value her and her contribution to your child’s success at school.