It’s a good idea to develop a solid relationship with your teen’s teacher early in the school year. That way, if you have worries or if concerns arise, you will be well positioned to address them because you’ve been working together. By establishing a partnership, you’ll be able to more effectively work together to help your teen succeed. Try these 6 tips.
1) Meet with Teachers
Most schools hold parent-teacher conferences early in the school year. Attend these to have a chance (even if it’s for a very limited amount of time!) to meet teachers in person. If your child is struggling early on, don’t wait until the conferences take place. Make arrangements through the school to meet with teachers ASAP. If you can’t make it to the school, set up a phone call with the teachers. Think about sharing any important information with teachers that may affect your teen’s school work. (Examples: You are going through a divorce, there’s an illness at home, your teen regularly stays up past midnight doing homework). If your child has an Individualized Educational Plan (IEP), make sure the teacher has it on file. Depending on the IEP, you may want to arrange to meet teachers and begin working together even before school starts.
2) Be Aware
Teachers can be very busy! If you make an appointment with your teen’s teacher, be on time. Come prepared to speak about specific concerns or share particular hopes to make sure you finish within the time allotted. Consider writing a brief list of topics you hope to address to keep the conversation on target. If you’re there during the school’s scheduled parent-teacher conferences, rest assured other parents will be in line behind you waiting to speak to the teacher as well!
3) Determine Preferences
Email? Text? A phone call? Each teacher has their own preference as to how and when they want to be reached. Ask about those preferences early. Do they check their emails first thing in the morning or last thing at night? Are they looking at texts throughout the day? Will they respond to a message sent over the weekend? (Check that the answers you get match what your child has been told by the teacher.) Be sure to keep contact information for them somewhere easily accessible (your phone, computer or a list on your front door) so you don’t have to go searching later!
4) Express Gratitude
A little appreciation or praise goes a long way. Let your teenager’s teachers know how much you appreciate what they are doing for your teen. Be specific. Here are some examples. “My son’s essay writing has really improved with your help,” or “My daughter has brought her math grade up this year thanks to your techniques.” “My teen really appreciates that you recognize the kinds of things that make her nervous in class,” or “I really appreciate the way you’re helping my son think outside the box.” It can even be as simple as, “I love how you’re getting my daughter interested in this subject when she’s never been interested in it before!” Whether it’s telling the teacher face-to-face, writing a thank-you note, alerting the principal about how pleased you are with the job they’re doing or helping contribute to needs of the classroom, let them know you’ve noticed.
Supporting Your Teen’s School Success
When parents are involved in schools and support learning, young people are more successful. Click through to review benefits of getting involved with your child’s education.
The Benefits of School-Parent Partnerships
When teachers and families partner together, teens develop important social and emotional skills and have better academic performance. Look for ways to partner with your teen’s school. This may include volunteering, meeting teachers and administrators, or supporting school events.
Provide Support at Home
You can be involved in your teen’s education from home. Talk regularly with your teen about school and learning. Make it clear you value their education.
Build a Strong Relationship with Your Teen’s Teacher
Meet the teachers in the beginning of the school year. Learn how they best communicate. Share important information that may affect your teen’s school work.
Help Your Teen Manage School Work
This doesn’t mean doing your child’s homework. It means empowering your teen to come up with a routine to effectively complete assignments. It also means helping develop time management and organizational skills. And encouraging healthy eating, sleep, and exercise habits to keep your teen focused and prepared for school.
5) Get Involved
Whenever possible, get involved in working together with those in the larger school community. Even if only in a limited way, carve out some time from your busy schedule and show up for a school or class event. Volunteer or chaperone a field trip. Work the ticket table at the school dance. Help with the library fundraiser. Pitch in! If time or resources make it too difficult to get involved at your teen’s school you can still provide important support from home.
6) Support From Home
Help your teen to establish a quiet place in the home for studying and completing homework. Offer to host his friends for study sessions. Contact your school to see if there are phone calls you can make to help get the word out about an upcoming fundraiser at the school. Show your teen’s teachers you want to be a part of the school community overall and help ensure the success of all young people. Remember, your child will get the most out of school when all can succeed there. School resources are often limited. Parents tend to want to get more involved with schools when kids are younger. But don’t think that just because our children have hit the tween or teen years that building a strong parent-teacher relationship is no longer important.
Remember your teachers are so much more than people who transmit knowledge. They are child development and adolescent development specialists. They know how to guide young people to succeed and to look for signals that suggest distress. A partnership with them can make a real difference in your tween or teen’s life and yours.
Communicate With Your Teen
Don’t forget to communicate with your teen before having a conversation with his/her teacher. Keeping your teen in the loop is a reminder of your respect. Start by building a partnership with your adolescent, then with his/her teacher, and finally the school at large. Community members (including YOU!) that support schools build youth who will succeed today and ultimately contribute to the vibrant life of the community tomorrow.
Consider sending this out to your school community to build an active and involved parent body.