Promoting Parent-Teacher Communication: Working Together to Build Skills in Our Children

Oprah reminds us over and over again that parenting is the hardest (and most important) job in
the world. It’s hard to find a parent that would disagree. As parents we want EVERYTHING
that is the “best” for our children. When it comes to sending our children to school, parents will
make great efforts to ensure they have the best school, the best learning environment, and
certainly the best possible teacher. Parents are deeply aware that a great teacher can make a
huge difference in their children’s lives. They are also afraid that a bad teacher might do
damage that will last for years.
In February, 2005, the cover of Time was “Why Teachers Hate Parents.” These days, there
seems to be a decrease in the mutual respect between teachers and parents. Parents and
teachers are sometimes forgetting they share a common goal: to help children learn, grow and
develop resiliency. Studies have shown that teachers consider dealing with parents to be the
most difficult and stressful part of their job. The worst part about the breakdown of parent-
teacher relationships is that it does little to promote optimal growth for children and sometimes it
even does the opposite. We can do better.
Effective parent-teacher communication must be nurtured to help our children succeed. Parents
and teachers must work together to build an atmosphere of trust so that ANY issue a child is
struggling with can be effectively addressed. Each party has a responsibility to work at this
relationship—especially when the going gets tough. Developing positive parent-teacher
relationships, however, takes SPECIFIC skills that few have received training for. There is a
wide range of tools and strategies for both parents and teachers who are willing to invest in this
area of children’s lives. Tools range from strategies for making conferences effective,
preventing and resolving differences, handling conflict, and nurturing a parent-teacher
partnership. Here are just a few tips:
 If you have a concern, express it as soon as possible directly to the teacher, before
contacting other staff or parents
 Make an appointment stating the topic of concern; this way both of you can be prepared
 Coach your child on how to approach the teacher directly to resolve a problem, if
possible, before getting involved
 Ask for clarification before making assumptions
 Ask the teacher to be specific about the type of misbehavior in which a child might be
engaging and examine the context


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