Know who your best allies are - How to work with your child's teachers

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Find out why it is important to build a good working relationship with your child's teacher.

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Both you and your child’s teacher have his best interests at heart – so shouldn’t both parties work together to help your child unleash his potential?

Knowing how and when to partner with teachers is critical to the success of your child’s education. Schools recognise the value of cultivating this relationship, and good teachers constantly try to engage parents.

However, a partnership is a relationship, a two-way street. Unless there is mutual involvement and respect, what a teacher does alone will only have limited impact.

Parent involvement in Singapore seems rather limited, and it decreases exponentially as a child grows older. Parent involvement, if any, tends to be most active only during specially arranged meetings concerning bad behavior or poor academic performance.

When that happens, the already tenuous relationship between parent and teacher is further strained; so much more would be needed for its reparation, and so little could be done to promote positive collaboration.

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How to work with your child’s teachers: Both parties should have the same goal and speak the same language.

A teacher wants a child to learn, a parent wants the same thing. With the same goal, they should be looking in the same direction and speaking the same language. The irony, however, is that the relationship between a parent and a teacher is usually fragile and fogged with much judgment and misunderstanding.

The same concern, which is the child, is often also the same source of judgment. Constantly, and without basis, they find themselves judging each other, further obscuring this relationship with doubt and suspicion.

The plot thickens with clever children playing one against the other to get what they want. Teachers, like parents, want the best for their students. Your child’s teachers are no different. This makes you a team, not adversaries.

Get tips on how to work with your child’s teacher on the next page…

Take the lead

There is something about parents that intimidate teacher and set off alarm bells. Many teachers will choose to hide behind stacks of grading and avoid any real interaction with parents.

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Is the parent-teacher interaction lost in the picture?

Parents too, in general, seem content to lay dormant and operate in peace, as long as nothing comes up to disrupt the delicate equilibrium. However, they would have lost many incredible opportunities to team up and give the best to their children.

In Singapore schools, there is a missing culture of parent-teacher interaction. With the lack of genuine communication, the distance between parent and teacher is troubling, as it is a potential breeding ground for hostility to fester.

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Parents, take note: Meeting your child’s teacher should not be about showing ‘who’s boss’ – but rather, a chance to help each other support your child in school.

Parent-teacher meetings do not have to be awkward and edgy situations where two or three or four adults are pushing blame or trying to gain dominance.

The goal of the partnership is to establish positive contact, and help each other support the child in school. It is not to absolve responsibility, or to win for the sake of pride. As a parent, you can take the lead, and start building positive connections.

Play it smart

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Try to leave a good impression with your child’s teacher – he is more likely to give his best to your child during lessons.

Parent-teacher collaboration should not involve kiasu parents barging into the school office, demanding to do things their way, refusing to back down until the school gives in to their requests.

Needless to say, after one storm of an incident, the parent will leave an unforgettable impression. Without a doubt, the teacher will pay double the attention and check doubly hard on matters concerning the child.

With around 300 students to attend to each week, it might not be such a bad idea to leave that impression on the teacher. The trouble is, however, that reputation sticks. Of the 300 students, the parent is unlikely going to be the one with whom the teacher will want to work to give his best.

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Your child will observe how you interact with your teachers and take cues from you.

Relationship building is probably one of the most vital yet difficult skills to master. As a parent, if you could model a successful partnership with the school, your child will benefit tremendously from not just the positive connections you will make, but simply observing the way you collaborate with others.

With the same goal, and the right attitude, parents and teachers can close the gap and become strong partners in education.

After all, it takes a village to raise children.

Do you have more tips to share on how to work with your child’s teacher? Do share with us by leaving a comment below!

Article contributed by Leong Sou Cheng, a Singaporean educator based in Angola who is passionate about nurturing learning in children.