Parent-Teacher Relationships: Easy Ways to Connect Home and School

Sep 02, 2016

The parent-teacher relationship is an elusive one: teachers struggle with getting parents involved in the classroom and parents feel like there’s a barrier they can’t seem to break down when it comes to understanding what is happening at school. Sound familiar? Research shows that students of ‘connected parents’ are more successful, happy, and exhibit signs of improved self-esteem.

Luckily, it doesn’t have to be challenging to connect home and school. There are simple things both parents and teachers can do to build a happy and effective relationship until the last bell rings.

A TEACHER’S PERSPECTIVE

Sometimes, teachers simply need to ask and open the door for communication with parents. “A lot of it is perception. Teachers perceive that families don't want to be involved when, in fact, families don't know how to be involved,” said Karen Salinas, communications director for the Center on School, Family, and Community Partnerships at Johns Hopkins University.

When teachers encourage parents to get involved at the beginning of the year with a simple sign-up sheet it makes a big difference. Teachers can provide a list of tasks that need to be done throughout the year, and allow parents to sign up for whichever one they’d like to be involved in. Parents feel good knowing they have a choice, and an easy way to connect with the classroom. WIN-WIN.

A teacher’s to-do list never seems to end, and guess what? The parents of students have the same problem. Going the extra mile to make communication easy for both parents and teachers will help everyone stay connected without feeling overwhelmed. Not to mention, taking a moment to express a little gratitude on both ends can also go a long way.

Teachers get discouraged when trying to maintain communication if you’re always silent on the other end of the conversation. Jessica Bowers, first grade teachers, talks about ghost parents:

“This parent's name is on the roster, but does he really exist? This parent has never actually been seen, and it makes me a little nervous because I know connected parents make successful students. Again, I understand what it is like to be a working parent, but I wish he would take an opportunity to touch base by phone or at parent's night,” says Bowers.

Your child needs you and their teacher to succeed—the teacher can only do so much in terms of communication if you’re not there to be part of the conversation. Respond to all direct emails or messages and make an effort to introduce yourself at school events.

CREATING A PARTNERSHIP

Everyone is working to make a child’s education as engaging and successful as possible, dedicating both time and money. In fact, teachers spend an average of $500-$1,000 on classroom supplies, while parents also spend an average of $600-$1,200, according to a recent back to school analysis.

When parents and teacher think of each other as a partner, as someone who’s working just as hard as them to build a responsible, intelligent human being, magic can happen. Being partners in a child’s growth can help everyone learn how to better work with the child, manage behavior, meet their needs and more. The children are depending on both of you to make it work, and that should be motivation enough.

Need a little help? There are plenty of apps and tools to aid in the communication process. Here are a few to check out:

Buzzmob: A private network that allows teachers and parents to chat, send reminders and updates, share assignments add events and photos and more.

Remind 101: A text messaging app that helps teachers, parents and students communicate easily and effectively.

Connected parenting also means being aware of your child’s digital life. Parental controls, such as Net Nanny, give parents visibility into their child’s online activities. Net Nanny allows parents to take action by receiving timely email alerts about threats or inappropriate behavior. Parents should communicate any red flags to their child’s teacher or guidance counselor such as cyberbullying or conversations about harming themselves or others.