Cheri M. Gioe, Merrill, Thomas A.
Communicating with your children’s teachers may be one of the most important parts of parental involvement – a major key to a child’s educational success, according to LSU AgCenter child-care associate Cheri Gioe.
"As partners in children’s education, parents and teachers must ensure that communication is positive and helps to foster a strong give-and-take relationship," Gioe says. "The health of this relationship can affect the developmental success of children."
The LSU AgCenter expert says there are a variety of ways this relationship can be nurtured – such as listening to one another, being visible and available, showing respect, being reasonable and accountable and exercising discretion.
"To begin, both parents and teachers must realize that they are partners in education," Gioe says. "Together, they must work toward mutual resolutions to any situations that may arise."
Listening is important in any strong partnership, according to the expert.
"One must remember that to be an effective listener, eye contact should be made, questions should be asked and acknowledgement of understanding should be indicated," Gioe says of effective conversations.
She also says that both teachers and parents should be available and visible. "By being available, small issues can be handled as they arise and therefore will not turn into big problems," Gioe explains.
Respect also plays a key role in how the parent-teacher relationship is nurtured.
"Tone of voice, demeanor and body language are indicators of respect," Gioe says. "Everyone involved in a child’s life must model respect. As the old adage goes, to earn respect, one must show respect."
Another key point in successful parent-teacher relationships is that parents and teachers must always be reasonable, Gioe says.
"At times, the expectations for children can be unrealistic," she says. "This often can lead to frustration and disappointment by all."
Being accountable also is important.
"Both parents and teacher must be accountable. They have shared responsibility in the relationship that has been nurtured," Gioe says. "A good way to foster accountability is to have frequent open-ended communication, mutual respect and a clear understanding of what is expected by all involved in the child’s life."
Finally, the LSU AgCenter expert points out that teachers and parents must practice discretion when they discuss children.
"Bashing anyone can be hurtful and harmful. By abstaining from these types of discussions, parents and teachers can model respect," she says.
The LSU AgCenter’s "Be Child Care Aware!" educational program is designed to educate parents and child-care providers about quality child care. It is funded, in part, through a contract with the Louisiana Department of Social Services’ Office of Family Support.