Accept that there will be nerves: Some students find transition and change hard. There is a new environment, new teacher, new children and new work. As a parent, accept that there may be nerves. It may have nothing to do with the teacher or the students it may just be change in environment.
Focus on the positive and smile: Each day ask your child questions about what they loved, what they enjoyed. Highlight the positives with your child as well as the teacher. Even when meeting or seeing the teacher, smile and share the positives. A simple smile when greeting a teacher goes a long way.
Keep the adult chat to the adults: There is nothing worse than listening to parents share inappropriate conversations in front of children. It is good to share relevant information. However, it is not always appropriate in front of the children. If you need to share sensitive information about a relationship, past history etc., book an appointment and keep it among the adults.
Do not bag the previous year’s teacher: another no no for parents. Yes, last year the relationship between your child and their teacher may not have been productive and positive. Personality clashes do happen. That is life. Speaking negatively about the previous year’s teacher will not be a good start to the year. I have had parents put down teachers who I consider friends as well as good professionals without the full picture. Keep the negativity to a minimum. A fresh start for the new school year.
Discuss the academic goals: Focus on the learning. Set shared goals with the teacher. That way, if you are both on the same page and using the same language, it is certainly helpful for the students. Celebrating these shared goals as a team also helps build student confidence and pride.
Think of questions to ask: Do not be shy. Teachers would rather you ask questions or share your concerns to their face, not in the carpark or online. If you have a question, ask it. There is no such thing as a silly question. After all, I am sure that school has changed since you went. If you need to write them down or simply, inform the teacher that you need some clarification and support.
Keep your child’s teacher as the first point of call: Your children’s teacher should always be the first point of call. The “above the head” mentality can damage a healthy relationship. Air your concerns and questions with the teacher first. After all, you would like the respect of having the chance to explain your point of view or thinking. While you may not always agree with decision, give it a chance, wait, and see. If you are still not happy, then meet again or look at other options. Remember teachers are people too and you need to put yourself in their shoes. Would you do this to yourself or like this done to you? If the answer is no, then do not do it to the teacher. On the other side of the coin, do not keep concerns to yourself, address them when necessary.
Ask how you can help: big or small
You are with the children more than a teacher is. You know your child best. You know what they love, hate or find challenging. It is often beneficial to ask what you can do to help your child learn at home. If you need support materials, then ask for them.
Pick an appropriate time and place to raise and discuss issues: if you want the best conversation with your child’s teacher, book a time and a place. At the start of the day, teachers are in chaos mode trying to make students feel welcome and start the new school day. Similar to the end of the day. Teachers need to make sure children pack up, leave safely, do duties, get ready for, organised and prepared for meetings. You will not get the best from a teacher at these times. Pick a time and place that is fair to your child’s teacher. A time when both parties can give each other full attention.
Talk to your child about the little stuff: Do not grill your kids. Often parents, with good intentions, grill their kids about the school day and worry about every little answer. “What did you do at school?” Nothing. “Who did you play with?” No one. “What did you learn?” nothing or I do not remember. Start small. “Did you watch anything at school today?’ Did you get to use your pencils today? Talk about the weather. Small things can often led to larger conversations. Moreover, take into consideration school is long and busy like your job can be. Sometimes you just do not want to talk about it. It does not mean anything is wrong, it means school is over and it is time to think about home. You could always find out what exactly your child is learning in class by asking questions that are more specific.
Accept that it can take time to build friendships: Try not to hit panic stations and stress or blame teachers when your child has no one to play with. Just like adults, friendships take time to develop and they do change over time. Some kids like to play alone and that is normal. Allow your child time to settle in without asking them every five seconds who they played with. If you are still concerned after a few weeks, arrange to meet the teacher.
Be clear about what you wish or hope for: One of the key questions that we ask parents at beginning of the school year is what do you wish or hope for your child. If you would love your child to be a better speller, say so. Want your child to be confident and happy? Say so. When teachers know the priorities for you, we can fully help support you with that.
In the business of life, relationships between a teacher and a parent can come second or quickly get overlooked. It is very important, for your child’s sake to build a healthy relationship with their teacher. Just like a normal relationship, it needs time and effort to grow. So start the new school year on a good note this year!