This month we have been posting about how important it is for parents to be involved in their children’s schooling and listing some suggestions for doing just that. This week we want to focus on specific ways that you communicate with your child’s teacher for different reasons.
If you have quick questions to ask your child’s teacher or just want to let him know about an upcoming event, like a planned absence for your child, email can be the best way to get in touch. This can be a better way to handle communication than trying to catch your teacher at pick-up or drop-off times at school when she may be busy with other students. Email can also be a good way to set up a time to talk in a phone call or a face-to-face meeting.
Keeping track of how your child is doing in school
If you want to keep track of what is going on with your child in school, say you want to make sure that you get weekly homework assignments or you want to see how your child is doing at learning a specific skill, there are a couple of pretty easy, but effective, ways to do that.
Home-to-school notebook. Use a spiral bound notebook to write notes to your child’s teacher and send it to school with your child. The teacher can then reply to the notes and send the notebook back home. This can be a great way to track homework and other assignments. Or to get a weekly check-in on how your child is doing.
School cards. If your child is working on a specific skill or behavior, for example, staying in her seat during instruction time, a school card can be a great way for the teacher to let you (and your child) know how things are going on a daily basis. This is a card with one or two behaviors written on it that you and the teacher are targeting with your child. So it might be “Stayed in my seat during writing time” or “Followed directions the first time”. The day is divided up into a couple of sections like “morning” and “afternoon”, or “before snack”, “after snack” and “after lunch” (depending on how often your child needs feedback). And there are spaces for feedback about how your child did. These may be words or smiley faces. This can be a really quick way for the teacher to tell you about how your child’s day went. These cards are really effective if you set it up with the teacher that you will reward your child if she gets 70% positives on the card (no child will be perfect). For example, your child could earn 15 minutes on the computer for 70% or more success. Be sure to tell your teacher what your child is earning so that the teacher can remind your child.
Meeting with your child’s teacher
When you are setting up ways to communicate, or a school card, or just want to talk about something that is going on in your child’s life, a face-to-face meeting can be really helpful. When you schedule a meeting, you want to come prepared with your questions. If you are talking about a potentially difficult topic, try to use “I” statements, such as “I think my child is confused about…” instead of “You don’t explain lessons clearly enough.” Also try to stay focused on finding solutions to issues, rather than figuring out who is responsible for difficulties. Remember that you and your child’s teacher both want the best for your child.
Thank you notes
We all like to hear when we have done a good job with something. So if your teacher did an activity in class that your child could not stop talking about at home, or if she took extra time to work on reading with your child and you can tell that it is really helping, let the teacher know! A short thank you note can really make someone’s day.
Communicating with your child’s teacher on a regular basis helps you to stay in the know about what is going on inside his classroom and how he is doing in school. It doesn’t have to be complicated; in most cases an email is all you need to do. Overall, communicating will help you to know how to best help your child succeed in school.
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