Positive Parent-School Communication

Ms Victoria Foster
Deputy Head Of Junior School @ Dulwich College Shanghai
Parent and teacher communication plays a huge role in a successful academic career, however, keeping the communication lines open throughout the school year can be a tricky path to navigate. Teachers understand the role parents play in a child’s education, and want interactions to be positive and productive at all times. Here are some tips for communicating effectively with your child’s teacher this year…

• Do: begin the year by making an effort to introduce yourself to your child’s teacher either in writing or in person.
• Don’t: wait until there is a big problem before getting in touch – regular communication to get clarification or advice helps if you have a concern later on. Don’t think you are being a nuisance if you communicate with your child’s teacher regularly.
• Do: respond to any personal communication even if it is just a quick email to acknowledge you have received the information.
• Don’t: ask to speak to the Head Teacher or Principal as soon as you have a concern – go directly to the teacher first. If you don't agree, or want further clarification, feel free to ask to speak to a more senior member of staff. Remember, part of a teacher job is to communicate with parents and they expect parents to reach out to them if there is an issue or concern in the first instance.
• Do: be diplomatic and clear when something does concern you, especially if you are expressing your thoughts in writing. Use positive and open phrases such as: can we discuss… or I’m confused about…
• Don’t: hesitate to book a meeting if you want to discuss something in person. If you book a meeting, explain the topic of the meeting in advance if possible. Go to the meeting openminded, ready to listen and prepared to find a solution with your child’s teacher. 
• Don’t: attempt to talk to your child’s teacher when they are teaching a class. Teachers are busy during the school day but are often available before and after school. If it is urgent, popping in at the start of the day and asking for a time to return allows the teacher to find a suitable time to meet with you. This will mean you have plenty of time to discuss the topic together without the teacher feeling rushed or distracted.
• Do: advocate for your child. Your child’s teacher may know them in an academic setting but you’re with him/her for the rest of the time, so don’t be afraid to share your observations and ideas.