Establishing a Positive Parent-Teacher Partnership

My son started Pre-K this year in our local public school. We are fortunate to live in a district that offers full-time, nearly universal Pre-K for four-year-olds. I am very grateful that my son got a spot in the program and even more thankful that he truly loves his school experience so far.
I taught middle school when I first graduated college, and my background in education has been both a blessing and a curse when it comes to my kids. There’s no doubt that I have certain expectations for my kids’ teachers and schools. On more than one occasion, my husband has threatened to ban me from parent-teacher conferences. He worries that I’ll come off too strong and alienate teachers or administrators. Luckily this hasn’t happened, and we’ve had great partnerships with my son’s teachers.

Productive school-family partnerships are a two-way street. You can do a lot of things as a parent to promote effective communication and a strong working relationship with your child’s school team.

1. Communicate positive feedback.

Be sure to do so at least as frequently as you offer suggestions or ask questions. After about a week of school, my son told me that he loved his school and that his classroom felt “so peaceful and fun.” Not only did this warm my heart and soul and put my mind at ease, but it also offered me a great opportunity to praise his teacher. She loved the compliment, and I loved making her feel good about her classroom environment.

2. Give little gifts.

Every once in a while, send your child’s teacher a little thank you card or a pack of gum for no particular reason. I sent in Lifesavers candy with my son’s school supplies and put a Burts Bee’s chapstick in his folder after a week, just as little treats for his teacher. When you purchase your teacher holiday and end-of-year gifts, go with gift cards and skip the mugs and candles.

3. Be proactive.

You are the expert on your child, so be sure to communicate important information with your child’s teacher. Your heads-up tips and tricks will better equip the teachers to support your child.

4. Get to know the go-tos.

Your child’s teacher isn’t the only adult in the building who has a vital role to play. Befriend the office staff and administration as well.

Your child’s school experience depends on a lot of factors, including your involvement as a parent. A little goes a long way in building positive and productive relationships with the school-based team that interacts with your child.
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Amy is a Hudson Valley native and educator working in New York City schools. She has two little kids and one little dog. Before moving to her current home in Ossining, Amy attended college on Long Island and then spent most of her 20s in Brooklyn and Queens. New York is truly home for her, and she’s thrilled to be living closer to her hometown of Garrison and her extended family. As a mom, Amy believes in empowered parenting, and she’s passionate about raising her kids to be partners in the fight for social justice. When she’s not working or trying to figure out nap time, Amy loves hiking, yoga, swimming, and relaxing with her family.