What better way to give your child a leg up in school than to help them bond with their teacher? If you think back to your childhood, there were probably one or two teachers who stood out in your mind as your favorites. Either they inspired you or challenged you to do better, but in all cases you’ll probably agree that you genuinely liked those teachers better than all others. That affinity was built on the relationship and bonding that your teacher was able to establish with you. It’s no different today. Let’s look at a couple of ways that you can help build this relationship.
You know your child better than anyone else does. You understand their personality, their likes and dislikes, their mannerisms when they are tired, agitated, angry, or confused. You know what discipline works on them and what does not. Feel free to share these things with your child’s teachers. It might feel like you are making excuses for your child or asking for special concessions, but you’ll know the difference. If you ask for them to be treated differently, that’s OK – your child is an individual. If you ask for them to be graded differently or to be excused for not turning in some work, that’s not OK – your child had the same opportunity as all the others to do the work.
In elementary school it is much easier for this bond to be built because your child spends the majority of their day with the same teacher. In middle and high school, it’s different just because the teachers don’t see them all day long and because they see so many kids throughout the day. They don’t have full exposure to the subjects that your child struggles with, so it is extremely important to communicate regularly with all of their teachers in both middle and high school. When talking about your child, stick with the guidelines above to know when you’re crossing the line with their teachers. Let your questions drive the conversation – if you’ll just ask open-ended questions and listen you’ll learn so much about your child.
It’s very tempting when your child is busy with activities to ask for extra credit or makeup opportunities. While it is OK to do that for legitimate reasons (such as they were simply absent from school), please avoid the resistance to do this especially during the later grades. Encourage your child to talk to their teacher and work through any issues or difficulties that they are having. Besides the educational learning that takes place in school, there is a social aspect which takes place where a child learns how to deal with authority, to be responsible for their own outcomes, to develop and maintain mutual respect, and so on. By intervening too much as a parent, you can give your child several wrong messages – that they can miss deadlines and still be OK, that you’ll be there to rescue them when they are in trouble, or that they can defy authority. Sometimes it is best to let them slip up and pay the consequences.
Talk to your children favorably about their teachers. Encourage them to befriend their teachers. Contrary to what your child may believe, the vast majority of teachers want them to succeed. Most all teachers entered the profession because they have a heart for children and a desire to see them become their very best. At some point down the road, your child may need to leverage the relationship that they formed with one or more teachers. If nothing else, your child needs to learn how to build relationships so please do whatever you can to build those favorably.