by Maria Chesley Fisk, Ph.D.
Anytime is a good time to reach out to your child's teachers and do your part to build a productive and positive home-school connection! Here are some dos and don'ts for starting a positive partnership:
DON'T expect the teacher to remember your name during the first two weeks of school or the first several times you have interacted.
DO greet the teacher and say for the first few times, I'm ___________ and I'm __________'s parent.
DON'T expect the teacher to be able to talk with you while the students are in the classroom; it's very hard for teachers to turn their attention away from the students.
DO schedule a time to meet with the teacher if you would like to talk.
DO assume a spirit of partnership with your child's teachers. You are both important to his or her learning this year!
DO share what your child is interested in doing and learning about at home and touch on multiple areas of learning including social and emotional intelligence. Also share your sense of his or her strengths and areas for growth. Mention any relevant and significant experiences that may affect his or her feelings about school. Think through ways you can work together to support your child--What behaviors or attitudes could you each look for and appreciate? Are there specific academic skills that could be reinforced at home? How?
DON'T assume the teachers have read and remembered the details of your child's report cards from another teacher or her cumulative file. Many teachers prefer to start the year with unfettered high expectations for all and delve into their students' academic histories only after they have a relationship with the child (it's also easier to remember this sort of information once the child is known to you).
DON'T assume a teacher who leaves school shortly after the students is slacking off. Many come in very early or work at night so they can care for their own children or elderly parents in the afternoons. Most public school teachers are not required (i.e. not paid) to be at school more than roughly half an hour before or after school.
DO appreciate the hard work and well-intentioned effort of teachers. The majority pour unpaid hours and unreimbursed personal dollars into their classrooms. Acknowledgement of their efforts and thank yous from a sincere parent can go a long way.