There are so many things we can do as parents to create the context for success for our children. And one of the most important, and one of the most powerful, is something we can all do! I’m talking about communication.
I have seen it so often. Parents who take the time to build honest, trusting, respectful, and clear communication between home and school are helping their children to succeed. But there are a few tips that I hope will help you figure out how you can be the communicator with school that your child needs.
Be an Ally
Take the time to break the ice and show the teacher that you want to work with them. Email or meet with the teacher at the start of the school year. Be available and there to support them – but don’t be a helicopter parent! Communicate any concerns or worries you have about your child’s learning and ask for ideas how to move things forward. Teachers are professionals and they want to help. Remember to also check in mid-year between student, parent, and teacher conferences.
Know the Steps
If you have concerns or worries about a child’s learning, step #1 is to speak to your child’s teacher. Period. Give the teacher the opportunity to work with you to find a solution. Only move to the next level if that really doesn’t seem to get the job done – but let the teacher know first.
Many of us, especially if we are living in small international communities, may end up being close friends with our child’s teachers and their families. Try to keep all conversations about school within the school hours. It is hard to build an honest, respectful, trusting, and professional relationship if social settings become Parent-Teacher Conferences!
Share What You Know
You know your child better than anyone. Share that knowledge with your child’s teacher. But remember to be balanced; no child is perfect, not even yours! Be honest with your child’s teacher about what you both think your child can do well and what they need to work on.
Asking for Help is a Strength, Not a Weakness
Always be open and willing to ask for someone to help you communicate if there is a language or cultural barrier. E.g., take a friend to a parent/teacher meeting or ask the school if they can provide a translator or someone you trust and feel comfortable with, to assist you.
Commit Time but Not Too Much!
It takes time to develop an honest, trusting, and respectful relationship. Sometimes this is easy and sometimes it might be more challenging. We all have different personalities, and teachers are human too. See the relationship as an investment in partnership, and take the time needed to get to know each other. But be careful not to try too hard. Figure out how much time works for you and for your child’s teacher.
If you take the time and the effort to really build a partnership with school, it is amazing what that can do to help your child to be successful.
Natasha Winnard has come across many amazing young people in more than 20 years as an international educator, guidance and college counselor, and mentor in schools in Europe, Asia, Africa, and South America. Natasha Winnard Consultancy provides holistic, personalized guidance for young people and their families looking for support in the world of international education.