When your child starts school for the first time or returns to the classroom for a new year, a shift occurs for both you and your child. It’s no longer just Mom and Dad laying out rules, responsibilities, and expectations—now, your child’s teachers are doing it too. This can often require a shift in mindset as you adjust and prepare for the growing independence and collaboration of childhood. It takes a village, right? So what can you do to strengthen your connection with your child’s school and teachers?
1. Take Advantage of Opportunities to Connect
Timely, constructive, and respectful communication between home and school is the foundation of a successful partnership. Schools provide a number of digital and in-person ways for parents to stay connected and communicate with the school. Be sure to take advantage of the opportunities that are offered. At Ellis, we provide a variety of communications meant to connect the school and home, including weekly and monthly newsletters and social media updates on classroom happenings, field trips, student fundraisers and much more. Also, take advantage of your school’s digital schedule and sync on-campus events to your personal calendar ahead of time. Finally, connect with other parents as much as possible. Parent Association’s offer a great forum to get connected with other parents and to volunteer in your daughter’s classroom!
2. Communicate With the Right Person
Schools have a communication "chain of command" that is meant to help direct you to the right person at the right time. Parents are often guided to connect first with teachers for classroom issues, then to the appropriate Division Head if they have additional questions. When parents approach administrators before communicating directly with their daughter’s teacher, they are usually referred back to the teacher first. These communications with the teacher ultimately strengthen student success, as well as the parent teacher relationship.
3. Approach Concerns With Care
While we may like to believe that our children are always acting positively, simply acknowledging that your child—like all children—sometimes makes mistakes and has lapses in judgement is critical for their growth. It’s okay and normal for squabbles to erupt on the playground—and it’s critical that teachers and parents have open lines of communication about these moments so they can turn them into learning experiences. Remember that you and your daughter’s teacher share the same goals: to help her grow, learn, and mature into her best self.
When communicating concerns with your child’s teacher, share the efforts you are making at home and focus the conversation on what "we" can all do to help. When you have a concern, make your first priority to try to understand the different sides or components of the issue at hand. Concerned parents who enter a conversation looking to gain a deeper understanding of the situation have a much better chance of a positive outcome than those who start from a defensive position.
Partnering Supports Student Success
There’s an enormous body of research on the positive impact of parent partnerships and student success strategies, not just in school but throughout life. Increasing family involvement in a child’s education correlates to grade improvement, attitude improvement, higher test scores, and college enrollment. Because when schools and families work together, children have a far better chance of not only being successful in school but being successful in life as well.
Are you ready to partner with a school that supports your family's hopes and dreams for your daughter?