How to Work With Your Child's Teachers
Middle school students learn best when parents and teachers work as a team. Parents know their children better than anyone else. And research says parents have a big influence on children's success --- all the way through middle school and high school. When parents and teachers work together, the results can be powerful. Look below to find some ways you can work with all of your child's middle school teachers throughout the year.
Begin at the Beginning: Start off on the right food and establish a good parent-teacher relationship as early in the school year as possible. Here are five things you should do during the first few weeks of school:
1. Get to know your middle schooler's teachers --- the sooner the better. Attend Open House and parent conferences. But don't wait for a special program if there is a problem or if your child has any special needs. Teachers need to know everything they can about your child.
2. Share important information that can make understanding your child easier for teachers. Sometimes things that happen at home can affect how children learn. A family move, divorce or an illness in the family can all leave a child feeling a little off-kilter.
3. Find out what's expected. Ask about homework, long-term projects and other special assignments.
4. Join the parent-teacher organization. Try to volunteer for at least one event during the year.
5. Make sure your child comes to school on time each day. Attendance is important. Learning builds day by day. Even the best teachers can't do the job if your child is absent.
Stay in Touch
Some parents of middle schoolers don't realize their child is having a problem in school until the progress report or report card comes home. But, by acting early, you can work with your child's teachers to solve problems before they get out of hand. Here are some ways busy parents can monitor their children's school performance:
- If you child seems to be having problems, work with the teacher or teachers involved. Agree on a way to communicate regularly. You might call or email once a week to make sure your middle schooler has turned in all assignments. The student planner is also a great way to communicate with your child's teachers, too, when teachers and parents work cooperatively.
Here's the Help Teachers Recommend
The National PTA asked teachers what they wished parents would do to help their children in school. Here's what teachers said:
- Encourage your child to do her best. Show you believe that education is important. Let her know you want her to do the best she possibly can.
- Set a good example. Actions really do speak louder than words. When you spend time reading, you show your child that reading is enjoyable and useful.
- Emphasize academics. School is your child's most important job. Other interests --- from athletics to TV, friends and games --- must take a back seat.
- Provide resources at home. You don't need a lot of expensive equipment --- but your should have a place for your child to study. (The kitchen table works just fine after mealtime.) A few basic, inexpensive reference books ---a dictionary, an atlas --- will make study time easier.
Be Sure to Say 'Thanks'
Has a teacher done something special to help your child? Does a teacher make school so interesting that your child looks forward to each day? Take a few minutes to say "thanks".
Your note can be handwritten or typed, on fancy paper or on a page taken from your child's notebook. Teachers are just like the rest of us --- they want to feel appreciated.