Tips from Veteran Teachers on Dealing with Parents

Enlisting parents in their child's education is one of the hardest yet most rewarding undertakings for teachers. Here are some practical tips from veteran teachers on managing these challenging relationships. New teachers will find this resource particularly valuable when forming lasting relationships with parents.
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Passing note
Parents will be much more supportive of you and helpful disciplining their children if you contact them as soon as a problem starts.
Keep them updated on their child's progress. Most kids just need to know what their boundaries are!

Susan Cowell
Medfield High School
Medfield, MA
Grade Levels: 9-12
Two young girls writing
Remember you are not just doing a job, but you are also advocates for the children.
Become a member of the PTA, and have a voice in what goes on at the legislature level.

Val Gentry-Fernandez
Kearney Middle School
Kearney, CO
Grade Levels: 6-8
Woman opening present
Keep parents informed regularly of what you are doing in class.
They really do appreciate this and it helps with parent-teacher communication.Lynette Wehner
Central Middle School
Plymouth, MI
Grade Levels: 6-8
Mother and son working on computer
Send home a weekly newsletter to parents and have them sign it.
This way you are keeping the parent informed about what is going on at school.

Grade Levels: All
Two girls studying outside
Get to know parents and students ahead of time.
Ask the counselors to give you a list of your students about two weeks before school starts. Send the students and parents a "Welcome to my class. I can't wait to meet you postcard." It does wonders for opening communication lines!

Keron Gwaltney
Luella Middle School
Locust Grove, GA
Grade Levels: 6-8
Computer button
You can say no to parents.
Politely, diplomatically, gently, but firmly, you can say no and survive!! For example, a parent asks if you can send each assignment home a day ahead so that they can go over it with him or her the night before? You can respond with a no and then give an explanation.

Mary A. Lang
Gwynne School
Gwynne, Alberta, Canada
Grade Levels: K-2
Mother helping daughter study
Call home or send a postcard to parents as soon as possible letting them know how enthusiastic you are about having their child in class.
Be sure to state that you want parents to call you if they experience a problem. I have yet to find a parent who doesn't tell a teacher to do the same. Besides, students are less likely to misbehave once they realize you and parents "know each other". (Although this is substantially more work at the middle or high school level, the positive results make it worth the effort).

Charmaine Wierzbicki
Calumet High School
Gary, Indiana
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