How to email your child’s teacher dos and don’ts

Sep 12, 2016

School is back in session! This means back to schedules, routines and homework. Our children will be spending more hours in a day with their teacher than with their family. We’ve entrusted the school with caring for their academic and emotional needs and, as in any relationship, strong communication is vital to maintaining a healthy parent / teacher connection.

Email has become a convenient avenue to send messages and can serve a purpose in a school relationship as well. Here are 6 points to consider in establishing healthy online patterns on how to email a teacher:

  1. Establish clear communication expectations - how does the teacher prefer to communicate - email, note home, phone call, conference? A helpful tip is to send a friendly introductory email the first week of school. Introduce yourself, provide your support and appreciation for the hard work she does every day in the classroom. This is also a perfect opportunity to ask how the teacher prefers to communicate with parents on routine matters, understanding and clarifying that serious matters will be addressed in person during conferences.
  2. Be clear and direct - your child’s teacher is very busy teaching throughout the day and will likely not have the time to read lengthy emails. When emailing a teacher, attempt to state your question clear and concise and without judgement. Be mindful of your own emotional responses to whatever situation you’re emailing about. This awareness will help to bring some objectivity to a conversation that may have a tendency to be emotionally driven.
  3. Talk only about your child - there may be times where your child is struggling with another student in the classroom. Keep in mind, the teacher cannot discuss other students with you. In these situations, it’s best to only address your child’s role in the classroom and allow the teacher to address it with the other student if necessary. The exception is when you have knowledge of cyberbullying, in that case you should get the school involved by contacting the school’s guidance counselor so they can keep a watch for in-school bullying and help support your child. Parental control software, such as Net Nanny, lets you set alerts when inappropriate behavior is detected.
  4. Know when to schedule a conference - some issues are best to talk about in person. Some examples may include behavior issues in the classroom, bullying and coming up with an academic plan for your child. In these situations, email can be a useful tool to initiate conversation with your child’s teacher. So instead of going through all the details of your concern, consider emailing the teacher, briefly cite the topic you wish to discuss and ask to schedule a phone or in person conference. This will help to limit misinterpretations and hopefully be more rewarding for your child’s success.
  5. Work at developing a mutually respectful and collaborative relationship - ultimately both you and your child’s teacher have the same goals for your child - to have a successful, safe and rewarding school year!
  6. Ask for the teacher’s perspective - especially when addressing a social or behavioral concern in the classroom, keep in mind the teacher likely has valuable information that could help to improve your child’s classroom experience. View the teacher as an additional resource who is full of information you may not be privy to.