Nothing is more important to parents than to have a good relationship with the teachers of their children at the start of another school year.
Teachers also realize that involving parents in teaching children has a big payoff. They are encouraged to meet parents early and to contact one another the minute they see the need.
In fact, most elementary schools have systems where teachers can inform parents daily, when something has come up, rather than waiting until the parent-teacher conference when it may be too little, too late.
Teachers understand research done by the National School Public Relations Association shows parents want to know what their child is learning and how well they are learning it.
School principals insist on “parent nights,” and are sending home newsletters, because research shows communications from the school itself is parents’ most trusted source. Principals also encourage parents to volunteer at the schools and even have special acknowledgements for those volunteers.
Given the research, teachers want to involve parents at home by listening to their child read and doing lessons. That’s why more teachers are sending home lessons that involve the parent and the child.
The Minnesota Reading Corps, employed by many metropolitan school districts, has a Reading At Home program that provides parents with reading materials that can help their child become a better reader.
Parent involvement is a lesson also being preached to parents through the state and national Parent Teachers Association. According to studies referenced by the PTA and parent teacher organizations, early parent involvement has these results for students: better grades, higher test scores, better school attendance, better social skills, improved behavior, more positive attitude, homework completions and a higher likelihood they will graduate from high school and attend college.
Teacher organizations also stress early parent involvement. The National Education Association cites a report from the Southwest Educational Development Laboratory: “When schools, families and community groups work together, to support learning, children tend to do better in school, stay in school longer and like school more.”
One critical part of good communication with teachers is the parent and teacher conference. That’s when parents can ask specific questions about their children. The conference can be successful when teachers and parents are especially prepared to ask questions and get answers.
As school starts, establish an early partnership with your child’s teacher. You, the teacher, and particularly the child, will benefit.
Don Heinzman is a columnist for ECM Publishers