Have you ever wondered what teachers wish parents knew that would help them be successful in the classroom? So did we! So Beenke reached to our teacher friends and read through tons of education blogs. We started to notice some interesting trends. We put it all together and came up with a list of five things teachers really want you to know in order to build a supportive parent-teacher relationship. Because at the end of the day, you both want the same thing – for children to get the best education possible.

#1 Be A Partner:

Or as one teacher put it, “talk to us, not about us”. Good communication is the keystone of any effective relationship, including the one between parent and teacher. If you have an issue with a teacher, tell them! Most teachers can handle feedback, especially if it’s done respectfully.

Besides, if you haven’t discussed the situation directly with your child’s teacher you’re only getting half the story. Complaining to other parents, or going straight to an administrator doesn’t give the teacher an opportunity to fill in the gaps or problem solve. It also doesn’t build the type of collaborative relationship you want with the person responsible for educating your child.

#2 Don’t Expect Perfection:

Your child is not always going to get the best grade in class. They will also likely get in trouble at some point…and that is okay. Many teachers have expressed frustration with so-called “helicopter” parents that want to swoop in and save their child every time something goes wrong, or make excuses for them, or argue to get them a higher grade (you get the picture). But making mistakes, handling the consequences, and learning from the experience builds character and resilience in children. Kids learn how to handle discomfort and develop coping skills, which can make them more competent and responsible in the end.

#3 Step In When Needed:

It may seem like a contradiction, but even though teachers want parents to resist the urge to “fix” everything, there are times when they need you to get involved. Particularly if you observe a recurring issue. Students can hide school struggles from their teachers. If you know something is going on, speak up!

Perhaps your child isn’t able to keep up with their workload, or they are having meltdowns over grades, or they seem stressed and anxious about going to school. These are the types of things teachers want to know. There could be an undiagnosed learning problem happening, or secret bullying taking place. Once a teacher is aware that something is going on, they can pay closer attention to try and identify the root of the problem.

Group of elementary school kids running in a school corridor
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#4 Bring Learning Home:

There are so many ways parents can encourage learning outside of the classroom, and teachers love it when you do. Show your child that learning is a lifelong adventure that doesn’t end when the school-bell rings. Read to your kids, take a trip to a museum or aquarium, teach them to cook, help them build a rocket…the options are endless. By encouraging a “hands on” approach, you can help turn learning into something fun and creative, not a chore. Plus you kids will have a more well-rounded understanding of subjects by experiencing them in different contexts and mediums.

#5 Be Involved In School:

If you show interest in your child’s school, they will too. Attend school council meetings. Join the PTA. Be on a first-name basis with your child’s teacher. Come to plays, science fairs and art shows. And make every effort to come to parent/teacher conferences and back-to-school night. Teachers want to connect with you at these events! They particularly value parent-teacher conferences, and wish parents knew the following about the conference itself:

  • We want you to come! Whether your child is doing well or struggling, we want to talk to you.
  • If you have questions you want answered, write them down before you arrive so we can maximize time and be sure to address all your concerns.
  • If we give feedback or advice, don’t immediately go on the defense. We are educated professionals that work with kids for a living.  Trust us, and consider the feedback like you would feedback from any qualified professional.
  • If your child has allergies or other health concerns, or there is something unique about your family’s current situation that you think may impact them in the classroom, let us know.
  • Tell us something special/interesting about your child that will help us know them better.

The final thing teachers wish parents knew is that you are your child’s first, and most important teacher. You have more of an impact on your child’s development, values, behavior, work ethic and actions than anyone else. What you do matters, so keep up the good work.

What has been your experience getting to know your child’s teacher? Any teachers out there want to weigh in on what they wish parents knew? Share your comments and ideas in our Education Community.