Parent-teacher relationships play large role in education

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Healthy, balanced relationships benefits students

Along with getting supplies, meeting the teachers and finding the classrooms, an important goal among parents and children is establishing a positive relationship with the teacher at the beginning of the school year.

In addition to meeting the teacher to can put a face with a child's name, parents can keep in touch by email or notes in a child's take-home folder.

Building this relationship can help parents, teachers and children have healthy, balanced relationships, and benefits education in multiple ways.

Cassville Middle School Counselor Amy Cole said students will perform more efficiently, socially, academically and behaviorally, in an environment where they feel validated.

"Positive relationship equals positive behavior," she said. "We all need that validation, adults and students, but even more as students develop their social circles and belief systems separate to their parents. If students are made to feel they don't matter at school, apathy may develop, and without strong relationships with teachers, principals, cooks, custodians, whomever, and if they don't see that connection between their parents and school, their desire to succeed won't matter and performance will diminish.

"Parents can read newsletters, class blogs and discuss items of interest with their child so they will know education is important to you as well. Our children follow by example."

Janice Emery, 4-H youth development specialist with the University of Missouri Extension, also emphasized the importance of developing a parent-teacher relationship early on.

"Contacting your child's teacher the first week of school allows parents and teachers to establish a relationship before any issues have arisen," she said. "Waiting until there is an issue to reach out to your child's teacher is a mistake. When a teacher does complain about unacceptable behavior on the child's behalf, it puts parents on the defensive, making effective communication harder. It also does nothing to resolve the issue or help your child."

General tips Emery offered to get the school year started on the right foot included:

* Contacting your child's teacher the first week to see how things are going. Fill the teacher in on any information that would be helpful to know about your child.

* Let the teachers know they have support and cooperation.

* Drop notes to the teacher occasionally to keep communication gates open and make sure a child is on track. Prevention is easier than putting out fires. Parents and teachers can share ideas and collaborate on how to best help their child with any issues. Often, teachers have ideas that parents never thought of.

"With supportive parental involvement, teachers can focus more on the task of teaching because they are aware of the child's needs and better able to tailor teaching to meet those needs," Emery said. "Parents who are involved are more likely to have a positive view of teachers, which improves teacher morale. Parents benefit by developing a great appreciation for their child's education."

Emery said research suggests parents being involved with their child's education increases motivation for learning, improves behavior, shapes more regular attendance and gives children a more positive attitude about homework and school in general.

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