4 Ways to Improve Parent-Teacher Communication

by Christine Chadwick

Parent-teacher conferences have a reputation for being lengthy and onerous yet it doesn't have to be this way. Parents and teachers have a special relationship built on a simple, often forgotten fact: they have the same goal. Parents and teachers both want to see a child excel in school. When differences in discipline and academic preparation arise, both parties would do well to remember this important fact. In addition, here are four ways to improve parent-teacher communication:

1. Respect the teacher's space

Parents, if a problem arises involving your child and his or her schoolwork, don't rush to call the teacher and complain or ask questions. Keep a cool head, and consider all sides of the issue, not just those your child presents. If possible, reach out to parents of children in your child's class regarding the problem. Chances are, they've dealt with a similar situation and will be more than willing to help you work through it. If you still need to get in touch with the teacher, contact his or her secretary or the school office to set up a one-on-one meeting. Whatever you do, don't go barreling into the classroom demanding why your child got detention last week.

2. Make the most of face-to-face time

Teachers often plan their parent conferences weeks or even months in advance. This is so parents can adequately plan to be at their child's school on that specific date. Parents, it's rare that you get to be in the same room with the person shaping your child's educational experience, so take it seriously. Arrive on time, turn off your mobile phone, listen, and ask relevant questions about your student's progress and his or her teacher's expectations.

3. Use your resources

If meeting face-to-face is a scheduling problem for parents and teachers, try using Skype instead. It's a convenient, professional way to hold a meeting, and one that many people are now entirely comfortable with. Set up an exact date and time, and treat it like an in-person meeting. Don't sit on a couch in your sweats during the chat. And if possible, keep the noise level at a minimum.

4. Get down to the nitty gritty

Parents and teachers are both guilty of circling around an issue when it comes to a child's performance in the classroom. Perhaps neither group wants to offend the other with downright honesty, but transparency is often in the child's best interest. Ideally, parents should always ask teachers how they can help their child succeed, and teachers should have advice at the ready for them. Like so many situations in life, honesty is the best policy here.

When it comes to communication, parents and teachers need not be apples and oranges. Their educational goal is the same, though the ways they approach achieving it may be different. Keeping the lines of communication open is the best thing both parties can do to ensure the child involved receives the best education possible.

Tags: Parents advice communication
Categories: Parents