Have you said “Hello” to your child’s teacher yet? If the school year is underway where you are, then this should have been the first thing you accomplished. If school is starting soon, make it a point: introduce yourself, make a pleasant first impression, wish the teacher well.
Here’s why. Your child’s teacher has at least 20 kids to manage – probably closer to 30 – and you want your child to stand out in a good way. You want your child’s teacher to believe your kid comes from a nice family that supports education. No matter what high jinx your child gets up to in the first few weeks of school, the fact that the teacher feels she knows you and knows that you’re an interested parent will help your child receive the benefit of the doubt.
Being a teacher sometimes feels like being under siege. There are pressures from the district and the building principal. Some parents are on a teacher’s case from Day One. And, of course, the children are not all little angels. When your child’s teacher understands that you are a reasonable person she will be more pleasant on those times she has to call you up to tattle on your kid. She will not feel that she’s going to get an argument from you. She understands that you’re on her side.
And you should be. This doesn’t mean you have to agree with the teacher on every point. But it does mean that when you disagree with a teacher’s decision, you work with her to try to sort things out. Disrespect rubs off on your kid just as much as positive involvement does. Remember that your child’s success in life as well as in school depends on his showing up, doing the work, and treating people well. Model that at the beginning of the school year by introducing yourself to your child’s teacher and saying nice things.
Support your child’s school and his teachers. Go to the school’s fall open house and attend every parent-teacher conference. When you can, volunteer. Parent involvement in a child’s school rubs off on the child. It’s a consistent contributor to children’s school success.
Rate Your Involvement
Think about the last school year (or if your child isn’t in school yet, remember your own parents’ involvement when you were a kid). How much positive involvement did you contribute?
Number of parent-teacher conferences you attended: None (0) One (1) All of them (2)
Number of parent-teacher conferences your child’s other parent attended: No (0) Some (1) All of them (2)
Number of times you volunteered at the school: None (0) Once (1) Lots (2)
Number of times you attended a school event (like a play, art show, football game, pancake breakfast or whatever): None (0) Once (1) Lots (2)
Number of times you called the principal to complain: None (0) Once (1) Lots (-1)
Number of times you called the principal to give praise: None (0) Once (1) Lots (2)
Number of times you called a teacher to complain: None (0) Once (1) Lots (-1)
Number of times you called a teacher to ask about your child or to ask if you could help: None (0) Once (1) Lots (2)
Add up your points. How did you do? If your score was between 11 and 14, then you’re a real contributor. If your score was between 6 and 10, then you’ve an involved parent – good for you! But if your score was just 5 or less, then you could do a lot more.
Make this the year you step up.
(c) 2012, Patricia Nan Anderson. All rights reserved.