The proverbial apple on the teacher's desk or coffee cup at Christmas time is always appreciated, but there are far more effective and meaningful ways to connect with your child's teacher. Back to school is an incredibly busy time for many families, but laying the groundwork for a good relationship with your child's teacher now can help you and your child for the entire school year. When you establish a relationship with the teacher, you become more approachable, and they are more likely to communicate with you.
Here are 11 simple phrases that will help you connect with your child's teacher now:
1. "How do you prefer to be contacted?"
You will inevitably need to contact your kid's teacher at some point this year. Asking upfront whether they prefer email or a phone call can save you from waiting days to hear back on an unanswered question. Save time, by also letting them know how you can best be reached.
2. "Do you need anything for the classroom?"
Many classroom budgets are limited so, if you're able, ask if there is anything small you can contribute. This might be a beautiful atlas or simply a plant to brighten up the classroom.
3. "How can I help?"
One of the best ways to connect to your child's teachers and administration is to volunteer. Let them know your availability and ask if there is anything you can do for the school. This might be listening to children read on Tuesday mornings, or coming in on a Saturday to help spruce up the playground.
4. "I'm concerned about my child making friends."
If you have any concerns going into the school year, let the teacher know. Whether your child struggled with math the previous year or is experiencing social challenges, telling the teacher right away will help them address and manage the issue.
5. "I'd like your advice."
Unfortunately, teachers do not always get a lot of respect in our society. Asking for a teacher's advice on a challenge your child is experiencing shows that you view her as an expert and that you want to have a collaborative relationship.
6. "My child is an auditory learner."
You know your child better than anyone. Offering important insights into how your child learns can save the teacher a lot of time and help ensure that your child is set up for success.
7. "Lizzie tells me every day how much she loves your stories."
People don't generally go into teaching for the money. Most teachers genuinely want to help and connect with the children in their class. If your child gives their teacher rave reviews, make sure to pass them along.
Also, if you think your child's teacher is doing a good job, tell them! A kind comment from a parent can really make all the difference. For bonus points, send a complimentary note to the principal if you really appreciate your child's teacher. The kind words will get back to them.
8. "I will be traveling next week."
Small changes at home can make a big difference in how a child behaves at school. This is particularly true for very young children. If there is a change in your child's home life, take a few minutes to let your child's teacher know. They will appreciate your thoughtfulness and will also likely have more empathy for your child if they're misbehaving.
9. "This is what we're doing to work on the problem. What else do you suggest?"
Whether it's turning homework in on time or talking too much in class, let your teacher know the things you're doing to help your child with a problem at school. Give specifics, like a screenshot of the planner you've set up for school assignments or a summary of the conversation you had with your child on the seriousness of listening in the classroom. This shows that you're taking the problem seriously. It will also let them know what's already been tried so they can better brainstorm solutions. Make sure to ask if they have any other suggestions as well.
10. "Can we meet to talk about that?"
Even if your child's teacher prefers to communicate by email, nothing compares to a face to face interaction. If you have serious concerns or you feel like you're not communicating well, ask if it's possible to meet with your child's teacher in person. If that isn't possible, see if a phone conversation is better suited. So much is lost in text and email conversations, particularly with a person you don't know very well.
11. "Let me jot that down."
If you have a meeting with your child's teacher, bring a notebook and a pen. Writing down their suggestions and concerns demonstrates that you take them seriously. It will also be useful as a reference for any future meetings.