With school back in session, it is important to establish a positive relationship with your child’s teacher. 

“Building this relationship helps parents, teachers and kids in many ways,” said Janice Emery, 4-H youth development specialist with University of Missouri Texas County Extension. “Contacting your child’s teacher during the first week of school allows parents and teachers to establish a relationship before any issues have arisen. Waiting until there is an issue to reach out to your child’s teacher is a mistake. When a teacher does complain about unacceptable behavior on the child’s behalf, it puts parents on the defensive, making effective communication harder. It also does nothing to resolve the issue or help your child.”

Emery suggests contacting your child’s teacher during the first week of school.

“The relationship between the child and teacher is still being established at that point,” she said. “This allows a parent to fill the teacher in on some key information about their child that will make life easier on everyone.”

Emery said to make sure the teacher has your contact information and knows that you are willing to give your full support and cooperation. 

“Dropping notes to the teacher occasionally just to check in is also a great way to keep the communication gates open,” she said. “This is a great way to make sure your child is getting the most out of their education experience because teachers and parents can share suggestions on how to optimize the child’s learning.”

By establishing this strong working relationship, all parties involved benefit, Emery said. With supportive parental involvement, teachers can focus more on the task of teaching the student because they are aware of their needs and are better able to tailor teaching to meet those needs.

“Parents who are involved are more likely to have a positive view of teachers which improves teacher morale,” Emery said. “Parents benefit by developing a greater appreciation for their child’s education.”

Schools that are continually communicating bad news to parents rather than also recognizing the child’s excellence, discourage parental involvement and can make parents feel they cannot effectively help their child during school time.

“Just because parents aren’t present at school doesn’t mean they can be effective at a distance,” Emery said. “Having a strong relationship will make any issues that arise easier to deal with and ultimately benefits the child because they will have an invaluable education experience.”

Research suggests that parents being involved with their child’s education increases motivation for learning, improves behavior, shapes more regular attendance, and gives children a more positive attitude about homework and school in general. 

For more information on positive youth development and joining 4-H, call Emery at the MU Extension in Houston at 417-967-4545 or email her at emeryjd@missouri.edu.

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