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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

News Center




Good Parent-Teacher Relationship Benefits Children

LAS CRUCES -- Parents who encourage children to get along with classmates may want to follow the same rule. It is just as important for parents to develop good relationships with their children's teachers, said a family life expert.


When parents become involved in school activities and get to know the teachers, it's a winning situation all around, said Esther Devall, assistant professor in home economics at New Mexico State University.

"I think many times you hear teachers say that parents don't care or parents aren't involved," Devall said. "To avoid that, you want them to get to know you as a person and your situation."

It also is crucial for parents to share information about their children and the home situation before a problems develop, she said. One helpful hint for parents is to ask teachers to contact them at the first signs of a problem.

Despite all efforts, sometimes problems do arise at school. During these times, it's very important to keep an open mind.

"Avoid automatically siding with the child against the school or the teacher," Devall said. "Both the teacher and the parent will have certain insights into the child. They need to share that information and come up with solutions."

A common problem for parents of young adolescents is that they never receive important information that schools send home, she said. A solution is to designate a special place in children's back packs or a certain pocket in their notebook where important papers are to be kept.

Parents can get involved in school activities in many ways, Devall said. They can assist teachers with class once a week, volunteer to talk to the class on a particular topic, help with field trips or donate supplies for special events or projects.

This enhances communication -- the key to developing a good relationship with teachers, Devall said.

"Find out from the teacher if there are certain times that you can discuss your child's progress," she said. "Also, inform the teacher of any kind of change in your family life that might have an impact on the child's school performance."

When parents show teachers that they care about the things they do for their children, it goes a long way, Devall said.

Many times parents only contact the school if there is a problem or they have some kind of criticism, she said. When parents show appreciation, sometimes teachers are more willing to hear suggestions for changes or improvement.

Parents' involvement with schools will vary, depending on their children's ages. Devall suggested these tips:
Elementary

* Attend parent group meetings or join the Parent Teacher Organization.
* Have lunch with children at school once in awhile.
* Visit classrooms to observe children's behavior, and interaction with teacher and other students.

Middle school

* Attend parent orientation night to learn how middle school procedures differ from elementary school and what's expected of the children.
* Go to as many school activities as possible.
* Ask children open-ended questions about their day at school. This is the time when parents must rely on them for much of the school information.

High school

* Get to know as many teachers and other school personnel as possible.
* Make an effort to get involved by supporting children's extracurricular activities. For example, be a band parent or cheerleader booster.
* Read the school's newspaper so to be aware of the issues that are important to the children.
* Continue to communicate with children about school.
* Support children's efforts to handle school problems as they arise.

Despite the grade level, Devall said, parents should always let children know that school is important and they are concerned about their progress and education.