The Importance of Parent-Teacher Relationships

How is your relationship with your child’s teacher? It may be one of the most important ones you have. The better that relationship is, the better the year is going to be for you and your child. They’re not always easy. Teachers change every year (most of the time), so each year you’re starting fresh. I’m OK with this, because it gives you a fresh perspective on your child, a new set of eyes to learn about him. As they mature, they change, and having someone new, someone who is familiar with his current age and abilities, is a huge advantage.

Yesterday was our parent teacher conference with my son’s teacher. My husband and I went in with anticipation, hoping for a good report. We left very pleased. Buddy is doing well overall, but is struggling with reading and writing. This wasn’t news to us. It’s something we’ve been working on with him as best as we can. What I love about his teacher is that she was very positive, but frank. He needs to improve, a lot. He entered second grade reading at a 45 word per minute rate, when he should have been at 85. Yikes. He should be at 115 WPM in a year from now. Double yikes, since that’s about three times what he reads now.

And here is where his teacher is worth her weight in gold (even at today’s insane rates): she gave us things to do. She knew exactly what his problems where, and had solutions. She suggested flash cards using their Must Know Words, which are conveniently located on her classroom web page. She is putting together a packet of Quick Readers, which are a short story with words that are suitable for his age range. He should be able to complete one of these orally in one minute. She also knows he prefers non-fiction, so she pulled ones that meet his interests.

Any good relationship relies on communication from both parties, so we were very open with her as well. We shared the things we’re doing at home, such as having him read harder books Monday-Thursday for homework (he has to read for 15 minutes and log), but on the weekends I let him pick easier books to read. We both see him working hard and want to keep him from getting frustrated and giving up. Right now, despite how well he reads, he loves books. We want to foster that love, not crush it by forcing it down his throat. The secret is to get him to improve while keeping him interested.

What I appreciate the most is the tangible things that we can do. Flashcards? I made 100 last night. Quick Readers? We’ll start on those right away. I also love these, because I didn’t know how to benchmark his progress before. I needed a plan, but needed help creating one. His teacher and I created a plan together, one that we both think will benefit Buddy tremendously.

How is your relationship with your child’s teacher – or, if you’re a teacher, how’s your relationship with your students’ parents? Does it need work? Are you available to one another? His teacher and I email regularly. She keeps her website updated and I check it weekly (at least) to see what’s going on. She send home important reminders and notes, and I read them and respond when necessary. It’s a two way conversation about the most important thing: my child. My best advise is to be open, be available and be honest.

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