12 ways to build a great relationship with your child’s teacher
1. Don’t ambush the teacher during the morning rush
If you have issues to discuss with your child’s teacher, arrange an appointment to talk to her after school. ‘Gatecrashing the classroom when we’re trying to get started for the day is incredibly annoying,’ says Steph, an acting headteacher.
2. Do try to resolve problems with the class teacher
Sometimes things happen in the classroom that are upsetting for you or your child, but try to keep some perspective. ‘Recently a colleague mispronounced a new child’s name, and the parent went straight to the head to complain,’ says Jodie, a Foundation Stage teacher. ‘It blew the entire incident out of proportion.’
3. Don’t forget to mark correspondence clearly
‘If I’m given an envelope labelled “lunch money” with no name on it, how am I supposed to know who it’s from?’ asks Year 2 teacher David.
4. Do accept that your child may be different at school
Your little angel may be all sweetness and light at home, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he is at school. ‘Trying to explain that little Johnny has ripped George’s coat during rough play for the second time that week is impossible when Johnny’s mum thinks he’s a little ray of sunshine,’ Steph says.
5. Don’t expect part-timers to be psychic
If your child has job-share teachers, try to address questions and comments to the right one. ‘It drives me mad when parents expect me to know where their child left his homework the day before or why he had a run-in with another child, when they know it was my day off,’ says Becky, who teaches Years 3 and 4.
6. Don’t be tight with school trips
‘Some parents never pay for trips or swimming lessons because we have to write on the letter that contributions are voluntary,’ Steph explains. ‘Many schools have budget deficits, and if parents who can afford to contribute won’t pay, these activities can’t go ahead.’
7. Do foster independence
Rather than trying to teach your child to read and write before starting school, it’s more helpful to teachers if he can get dressed, put on his shoes and open his lunchbox himself. The same applies to older children: ‘I often get parents complaining about children being late out of school on PE days, when really, by the age of 8, they should be capable of getting changed in less than 15 minutes,’ says Becky.
8. Don’t be a pushy parent
‘Parents who insist that their child should be on reading level 100 when he’s just learning his letter sounds drive us mad,’ Jodie says. ‘The same applies to parents who ask for extra work to take home when their poor child is off school sick.’
9. Do reinforce the school rules
‘Last week, I put a child in detention for telling me to shut up, only for the parent to come storming in complaining that I was being too harsh – after all, she hadn’t said the F-word or anything!’ says Steph. It pays to familiarise yourself with the school’s behavioural policy before you object to any punishments that are doled out.
10. Do encourage good housekeeping
Children learn best in a tidy environment, so make sure your child does his bit. ‘If parents got their children to put their bags and coats neatly on their pegs at the start of the day rather than dumping them on the floor it would make life much easier,’ says David.
11. Do label uniforms
‘There’s no point complaining that your child has lost his jumper when you didn’t put his name in it in the first place,’ Becky says.
12. Don’t forget about parents’ evening
‘Nothing makes me crosser than parents who don’t turn up to parents’ evening, when I’ve given up my free time and missed putting my own children to bed,’ says Steph. Miss it at your peril!