How to Partner with Your Child's Teachers: Advice from the Experts in Queens
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Effective communication is key. All parents want their child to be treated special, the ways parents treat their children at home.
There are ways to improve this at school, too. Anxiety, fear of unknown, and miscommunication are often in the way of building a quality relationship between teacher and parent. It is necessary to build a good rapport. The communication should go three ways: parent-teacher, parent-child, and child-teacher. Do not discard the child's opinion. Though he may be young and immature, as an individual he often knows what he needs to feel comfortable in the school environment.
Ask yourself: What would be helpful for a teacher to know about my child? Make a list of expectations for your child for this school year - and they must be realistically possible for him to achieve. (I often deal with gifted children whose parents' expectations are far from reality.) Communicate this list to the teachers, and ask if they can give you feedback on the ways to achieve what is on it. Communicate and share the goals between the three of you, and adjust them depending upon progress.
The more a parent and a child are prepared, the less anxiety-provoking this process is. Despite natural anxiety, be yourself when you are communicating with a teacher. It will help your child to see you being positive and confident, too. Express your worries in positive ways, and make it clear that even though those are your worries, your child may not share them.
Hearing alternative opinions can help a child move forward in his achievements. It doesn't mean that a parent has to agree on everything a teacher says. But think about a proposed idea before rejecting it. You can always schedule follow-up appointments with the teacher to discuss progress or special needs. Discuss any suggestions from the teacher with your child. As I mentioned before, everyone wants to be heard and understood, especially our children. And remember: Most teachers are parents themselves."
- Marina Doulova, M.D., director, ABC Psyciatric Services, Forest Hills Gardens
"Emailing the school's director is a great way for parents to communicate about a child's progress. Parents tend to demand immediate overnight results, which is understandable but not always feasible. Personal individualized appointments may be made with a child's teacher after school hours - this is when a teacher can lend her full attention!"
- Evelyn Bello, executive director, Jack & Jill Schools, Flushing
"Parents should be interested in how their children are doing both in the classroom and in their after-school involvements. In a sports-based program like ours, the most informative thing parents can do is show up and watch their child in action. I know this is not always possible, but it's the best way to determine if the child is really having fun and to show the parent how they are achieving. With a parent present and applauding, a child receives validation for his or her successes."
- Joel Mansbach, director, First Shot Basketball School, with locations throughout Queens
"I find dealing with inquiries of parents of infants and toddlers is best done on a case by case basis. Some parents initiate communication and typically inquire about the status of their child's progress, and perhaps express concern only if they feel there is a negative change in progress or they are falling behind.
For me, the preferred method is by email because we create a record of the inquiry and the response, as well a running track record of a particular concern. This also documents whether the inquiry is justified or whether we are taking action on a specific inquiry.
One pet peeve is that too often parents expect to make inquiries at the time of drop-off or pick-up. I try to impose very limited communication then because it is simply too busy. Any distractions, including parent inquiries, leave the possibility that their child or the other children in our care will not have the full attention we are required to give each child. Phone calls can also become a distraction. Even so, I understand that email is not always convenient, and parents may wish to keep certain information solely between them and the owner of the daycare business. For this reason, I do try to work around this sensitive issue, as parents' concerns must be appreciated."
- Melissa B. Galfano, owner, Toadlers Pond Inc., Forest Hills
See more advice from other area experts.