When you have a child in elementary school, junior high, or high school, its helpful to know how to work effectively with your school. Having a good relationship with the school can benefit your child and help to ensure a successful school experience. I spoke with Andrew Nelson, Principal of Oregon High School in Oregon, Illinois, to get ideas on some of the best ways for parents to work with their schools. He stressed the importance of communication, support at home and respect.
Communication is the number one key in dealing with your school effectively.
If your child comes home complaining about something, explore the issue further. It might be something the school needs to know about.
Parents should attempt to follow the preferred chain of communication. Talk to your child first. Then talk to your child's teacher. If you are unable to resolve a situation by working with the teacher, then its time to ask a principal for help.
School districts have an obligation to keep information about other students confidential. This can be frustrating when you are a parent dealing with something that another child said or did to your child, but remember that the same level of confidentiality applies to your child too!
Let your school know if something is going on at home that could affect your son or daughters performance at school. This will alert adults at school to watch for different behaviors and know when your child needs help.
Respect is also important in having a good relationship with your school.
Respect the time and daily duties of the staff. Its best to make an appointment rather than showing up unannounced.
Understand that a teacher is busy with classes most of the day and has limited time to respond to emails and phone calls. When contacting a teacher, give him or her at least 24 hours to get back to you. If you have an urgent need, try contacting the office to have them relay a message to the teacher.
Respect the schools right to make a judgment call. When dealing with a situation between two students, remember that there are always two sides to every situation and the truth usually lies somewhere in the middle. If a teacher or other school employee did not witness an altercation, they will have a hard time determining who was at fault. Sometimes, the only fair decision is to treat both students the same.
Remember that schools have your sons or daughters best interest at heart just like you do.
Do your best to support the rules that the school has put in place to protect everyone. If you must disagree with a rule, please do it in a respectful manner. Supporting the schools need for rules helps your son or daughter to respect those rules.
Throughout my years as a parent dealing with my children's schools, from elementary through high school, I have found that communicating openly with teachers and principals has helped me to feel good about the education my children were receiving. When one of my girls had complaints about a certain teacher, I learned that having a conversation with the teacher was important in order to see the true picture. Usually my daughter wasn't living up to her classroom responsibilities and wasn't accepting ownership for that!
Keeping the lines of communication open has also helped me to respect the people I have dealt with at the schools. This has been a great way to teach my girls about the importance of having good relationships with the adults at school.
About the author: Wendy Nelson is a full-time project manager and mom who started a website to help parents and their college-bound kids through the college search process, mykidscollegechoice.com. She enjoys writing about education-related topics and is also a contributing blogger on blog.textbooks.com.