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Back to school: 5+5=10 ideas for connecting with your child’s school

With school about to begin in a few days, I think it’s a great time to reach out to parents and discuss the relationship they have with their child’s school. I hope that this information will be helpful in fostering a productive school year.

Below, I offer five general suggestions of my own, and also present five specific ideas from the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) about how to connect with teachers and school counselors.

  1. Be present at the beginning of the year. It is important to take advantage of opportunities to engage with your child’s teachers and administrators—especially at the beginning of the school year. When school opens, there will likely be an open house, orientation, and first-day events that you can attend. Introducing yourself to the school staff establishes important relationships that benefit everyone involved.
  2. Don’t let the next time you talk to school faculty and staff be at report card pick-up time! Three months is too long to wait to contact your child’s teacher. These individuals have daily contact with your most precious possession, and a conversation expressing interest in your child’s progress would be a welcome gesture. Also, go ahead and ask for their contact information. In my experience, most teachers don’t have a problem sharing this information with parents. However, avoid abusing this line of communication because it is a courtesy that does not have to be extended.
  3. Become familiar with the school’s policies and code of conduct. I can honestly say that I don’t know all of the rules and regulations at my children’s schools, but I do know that most schools freely offer this information. Some schools will provide it in written form, while others will direct you to a website. Either way, it should be easily accessible.
  4. Be sure to obtain and read the teacher’s classroom rules and regulations. It is also important to review the rules and regulations for the classroom of each of your child’s teachers. Don’t sign that document acknowledging you have read the information until you actually have. If a problem occurs, you’ll be held accountable to the agreement you signed.
  5. Ask questions during your parent-teacher conference! Write these down beforehand (along with your own questions) and bring them to the classroom with you so you’re prepared.
    • What can you tell me about my child? If the response is something negative, ask: Can you tell me something positive about my child? Listen for specific descriptions, this will indicate how connected the teacher is to your child.
    • What is my child’s learning style? Listen for answers that indicate how they learn.
    • Don’t be afraid to ask your child’s teacher: What drew you to teaching? It helps when you understand where they’re coming from, too.

Get to Know Your School Counselor Too

parent-teacher-student_swzxu5“Strong in-school counseling programs contribute to overall student success, says Dr. Richard Lapan, Ph.D., professor at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. “Regular communication between parents and counselors help a child tremendously.”

The ASCA offers several tips in their blog post, Connecting with your child’s school counselor for a successful year, that will make parent and counselor connections easier.

Here are few specific ideas:

  1. Understand the expertise and responsibilities of your child’s school counselor.
  2. Meet or contact your child’s school counselor at least three times per school year.
  3. Discuss your child’s challenges and concerns with the school counselor.
  4. Learn about your child’s school and social connections from the school counselor.
  5. Work with the school counselor to identify resources and find solutions to problems.

Our child’s success is at the forefront of our minds every day. We can only positively affect academic progress and goals by working together with our teachers and counselors for a common goal in the education of our kids.

Everyone at your school is responsible for your child’s educational experience, and a partnership between home and school is imperative to your child’s success. But let’s remember that it doesn’t stop at school. Everyone in your child’s home is responsible for that child’s educational success and experience. In fact, everyone in your community is responsible.

These are just a few suggestions for parents like myself to foster healthy working relationships with the teachers, staff and administrators working with our children on a daily basis. Have a wonderful and productive school year.

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