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Teacher-Pleasing Parents


Q. I really want to work well with my child's teachers this year. What should I do to get off on the right foot?


      Make sure your child is fed, rested, groomed, properly dressed and hugged. Family breakfasts are a terrific way to start the day. It's hard to beat a family prayer at the breakfast table, too, for giving a child a good perspective on what the school day is all about, and staying focused on developing into the best possible young person of good character and smarts.


      Meet the teacher in person as early in the school year as you can. Smile. Shake hands. Make it clear you are interested in the teacher as a person as well as a professional. Ask what the teacher is most looking forward to that year. Share your hopes, too. Be pleasant. Be a friend!


      Don't be a critic. Be a coach. Think of yourself as an encouraging boss, and the teacher as a valued employee. Notice the good things that teacher does. Give sincere praise often. That's not "sucking up." That's being nice!


      Give the teacher a "touch" now and then. Send a note with something cute or interesting that your child said about school. Email a webpage that pertains to something the class is studying.


      Be courteous. Return school paperwork to the classroom the day after it's sent home. Respond immediately to notes and phone calls from the teacher. Be on time for conferences.


      Both parents should commit to attending all major school events. That supports the teacher as well as your child.


      Share your time and talents. Volunteer to change bulletin boards, coach kids for a speech contest, pull weeds in the school garden, substitute occasionally as a playground supervisor, or do whatever small tasks you can do to share the teacher's load.


      Listen more than you speak to the teacher. Teachers love to teach! So let them. Ask questions and don't be afraid to look stupid; you won't - you'll just look like you care. If you show that you have an open mind and are willing to learn about your child's education, you will influence that teacher, enhance your understanding and most likely improve your child's school experience.


Homework: Parent Power: 90 Winning Ways to Be Involved and Help Your Child Get the Most Out of School, Roberta Kirshbaum, New York: Hyperion, 1998.


By Susan Darst Williams Parental Involvement 12 2008



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