A Message to Parents: Communication…The Key to Positive Involvement in Your Child’s Education

Mary Gordon is the YWRC’s Community Education Specialist. She previously worked in the Des Moines Public School system for 37 years as a teacher, reading and math program coordinator and elementary principal.  She was a partner in Gordon and Royal Educational Consulting and has also written two children’s books, Bedtime Surprise and Little Bethlehem Star. 

First and foremost, remember that you are your child’s first and most important teacher.  Your effective communication with your child’s teacher(s) is critical in building a strong partnership with the teacher(s) in the best interest of your child. That communication begins on the first day of school with a greeting, indication of trust in the teacher, a mention of working together and a hug for your child. The partnership you develop with the teacher and school can be enhanced and strengthened in upcoming weeks by implementing the following strategies and suggestions:

  • The first week of school: Communicate in writing any special needs of your child. Provide your complete and current contact information.
  • If you are new to the school, attempt to communicate personally or with a positive note to other school personnel that will be in contact with your child (principal, counselor, nurse, special subject teachers, office manager).
  • Respond promptly to the teacher’s communications.
  • Volunteer in some capacity in your child’s classroom or at the school. This does not have to be extensive but shows commitment to the partnership.
  • Conversations with the teacher that are potentially longer than 5 minutes should be prearranged. Do not expect to have a meaningful conversation with the teacher when class is in session or directly before or after school if your meeting is unscheduled.
  • Participate in the established parent/teacher organization.
  • Participate and be prepared for Parent/Teacher Conferences. Bring questions, concerns, and praise (if merited) to the table. Questions should be specific, such as, “Is she following directions? Does he play with friends at recess? What is her grade level in reading? Is he mastering math concepts? If not, what can we do at home to move toward those goals? Is she getting her homework to you? Is he respectful to you?  Does she appear to be happy? Does he participate in class discussions?”
  • Attend Open Houses, music concerts, and special events at school.
  • Send a note of thanks or recognition of a teacher’s efforts facilitates a strong partnership.

Enjoy the experience!  It is fleeting and the joy endless.

Check out www.pta.org  for additional information and suggestions to insure a successful school journey for your child.