Positive parent-teacher relationships during the early childhood years are important and beneficial for parents, teachers, and, most of all, children. Parent-teacher partnerships mean that there is continuity between the home and school, which supports the overall growth, development, and well-being of the child. During the early childhood years, teachers can provide perspective, information, and advice for parents. And, when teachers feel valued by parents and have an open dialogue with them, they are better able to meet the needs of their students.
Starting early in the year, parents can take proactive steps to establish a mutually supportive parent-teacher relationship with their child’s teacher. These tips can help everyone get the most out of the preschool experience–creating communication channels for constructive conversations and establishing the foundation for productive interactions with teachers throughout your child’s educational trajectory.
Ways to Build Parent-Teacher Partnerships
1. Reach out early in the school year. As an initial step to fostering strong parent-teacher partnerships, it is a good idea to email, send a note, or reach out to the teacher early in the year to introduce yourself and share that you value and support their work and appreciate what they are doing for your child and all of their students. This is a more productive way to initially connect with the teacher rather than bombarding them at a school-wide event like Open House or Meet the Teacher as those gatherings are intended for all students and families to get acquainted with the school. This positive and gentle outreach early in the year communicates to the teacher that you want to be connected and can help to open up a dialogue that helps both you and the teacher feel comfortable sharing information throughout the year.
2. Share a note about your child. When your child starts at a new school or in a new classroom, it can be beneficial to share some information about your child that might help the teacher support their transition and overall growth and development. You might share their favorite activities, characters they love, and tasks or behaviors that might still need some extra support. When teachers know a little about who your child is and ways to connect with them, they are better able to help them acclimate, create opportunities for them to explore their curiosities, and support them through challenges.
3. Communicate any changes in circumstances or behaviors. Oftentimes, when big changes happen at home, they can affect a child’s behavior and ability to focus at school. This might include added excitement from joyful events such as a visit from a grandparent or sadness from a more challenging situation such as the death of a pet. It can be helpful to let your teacher know what is going on at home to give them some context so they can better support your child at school. Likewise, it can also be helpful to let your teacher know if you see any major behavioral changes at home as sometimes these shifts can be related to events at school. By communicating with the teacher, you can work together to identify the cause and plan the best path forward.
4. Give grace. The past year and a half have been particularly challenging for all educators and childcare providers. An incredible list of health and safety requirements and roles have been added to an already emotionally and physically taxing job. In your interactions with teachers, assume the best intentions. If a teacher forgets to send something home or puts the wrong date on a calendar, respond with empathy and understanding. Know that your teachers will do the same when your child comes to school with their shoes on the wrong feet or without their lunch box. This shared compassion works to strengthen bonds between home and school.
5. Say thank you. It may be cliché, but teaching is often a thankless job. Taking a few moments to express your gratitude can do a lot to make your teacher feel supported. And doing so several times throughout the year can work to build an overall culture of gratitude at your school. Take time to send a simple email or share a quick note of thanks highlighting ways your child’s teacher is helping them learn and grow. Or, share a general sentiment of appreciation for their time, energy, and commitment. This outreach does not need to be long or wordy to have a big impact. Just knowing you appreciate their efforts helps to carry them through hard days and strengthens the parent-teacher partnerships.
For more information on the benefits of positive parent-teacher partnerships, see Establishing Healthy Parent-Teacher Relationships for Early Learning Success.