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Talk with Your Child's Teacher

By: Colorín Colorado (2007)

In the U.S. educational system, teachers and school leaders believe that a strong partnership between the home and school will help children succeed in school. Teachers welcome input from the parents about their children, such as information about what the child likes to do or what they are good at. Teachers also understand that each student is different and learns differently, and that no one knows your child better than you do. You may provide some insight that will help the teacher work more effectively with your child at school.

Many teachers say that they don't often receive information from parents about problems at home. Many parents say that they don't know what the school expects from their children-or from them. Sharing information is essential and both teachers and parents are responsible for making it happen. Here are some steps you can take to develop a strong partnership with your child's teachers.

Questions and Answers

There are many reasons parents may be reluctant to talk to teachers. The following questions and answers, though, can help you to get the most out of talking to your child's teacher or with other school staff members.

What if…

  • …I don't speak English?

    Some parents are reluctant to talk with teachers if they cannot speak English well. Please don't let a language barrier stop you. What you have to say is more important than the language you say it in! Find out if someone at the school can interpret for you. There may be a teacher or parent liaison who speaks Spanish. You can also bring a friend or relative to interpret for you.

  • …I or my child is an undocumented immigrant?

    In the United States, public schools are required by law to educate all students. You don't have to answer questions about your immigration status or your child's. You're not required to show any identification at the school, and schools are not supposed to ask you for any. Talk with other parents to see what their experiences have been like with the school.

  • …I am not accustomed to meeting with my children's teachers in my country?

    In some countries, parents are not expected to talk with a teacher about their child's learning. As a result, some parents feel it's rude to question a teacher or to suggest something different, or that it means that the teacher is not doing their job correctly if the parent is involved. In the U.S., however, it is not considered disrespectful. Teachers and schools expect parents to participate. Your ideas and questions are welcomed and needed.

  • …I don't have the time or transportation?

    For some parents, it's hard to find time to meet with teachers or to attend school events, especially during the day. But there are other ways you can communicate with your child's teacher, such as by telephone or e-mail, and keep in touch with your child's teacher. Read Ways You Can Help Your Child Succeed at School for some ideas.

When should I talk with my child's teacher?

  • Early and often.

    Contact your child's teacher or teachers at the beginning of the year or as soon as you can. Get acquainted and show your interest. During the school year, keep in touch with your child's teachers. This will help you strengthen the parent-teacher partnership, and will be an important part of the child's success in school. When a child sees that parents and teachers are working together, the child will understand that his/her education is a top priority at school and at home.

What else can I do to help my child's teacher?

  • Tell teachers what they need to know about your child.

    You have important knowledge about your child's likes, dislikes, needs, and problems. It may be your son learns better when he sits close to the teacher. Maybe there was a death in the family and your child is having trouble concentrating. Letting the teacher know these things will help your child at school.

    If she has special needs, make these known from the beginning. If you notice a big change in your child's behavior, school performance or attitude during the school year, contact the teacher immediately.

  • Stay informed during the year.

    Parent-teacher conferences and report cards offer some indications of how well your child is doing in school. But you also need to know how things are going between these updates. For example, if your son is having trouble in math, contact the teacher to find out when he has his next math test and when it will be returned to him. This allows you to address a problem before it mushrooms into something bigger.

    Call the teacher if your son doesn't understand an assignment or if he needs extra help to complete an assignment. You may also want to find out if your child's teachers use e-mail to communicate with parents. Using e-mail will allow you to send and receive messages at times that are most convenience for you.

References

Click the "References" link above to hide these references.

Adapted from Helping Your Child Succeed in School. U.S. Department of Education. First published in June 1993. Revised 2002 and 2005.

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