Four Steps to a Healthy Parent-Teacher Relationship

Get tips on happy parent/teacher relations.

A good parent-teacher relationship can be the difference between knowing how your child's doing in school and knowing how he tells you he's doing. Education expert Dorothy Rich suggests the following four tips to get off on the right foot with your child's new teacher:

  • Introduce yourself to the teacher, and let the teacher know where you can be reached.
  • Ask questions. What is the class going to cover this year, and how can I help? What can we do at home to help?
  • Say a few words about your child's special interests and positive qualities, but you don't have to go into every dark secret. Your child may behave differently with this teacher; talking about negative qualities at this stage could put those expectations in a new teacher's mind.
  • Volunteer to help out. Let the teacher and the principal know when you're available. You could help chaperone a field trip, read to kids for an hour a week, or print the class newsletter on your home computer. But don't bite off more than you really have time for. Be consistent. Be someone the teacher can count on.

"Remember," says Rich, "You don't have to kowtow to a teacher to have a relationship -- relationships are built on partnership." And Rich adds not to get discouraged if you can't volunteer at school: "Though important, I don't think volunteering is the most significant part of parent involvement. The biggest piece is what you do with and say to your child at home."