The parent-teacher relationship at any educational level should be that of a team. Parents and teachers are typically the most influential adults in children’s lives, even more so at the elementary and early childhood levels. During the early years of schooling, teachers often spend more hours per day with a child than their parents. In most instances, parents know their child best, but a teacher can provide valuable insight into part of a child’s personality that their parents may not see at home. For example, if the child is an only child, the teacher has more opportunities to see the child interact with peers.

In recent years, teachers have been under fire for many responsibilities previously considered the parent’s role to teach: respect, manners, health & hygiene, and study habits. Nowadays, it seems that if a child is behaving or performing poorly in school, it must be the teacher’s fault and not an error in how the parents raise or interact with their child. As a result, there is a lot of finger-pointing, blame assignation, and the parent-teacher relationship has become frayed. This tension is detrimental to the child and their overall development.

The crux of the parent-teacher relationship is communication; it is the lynchpin in most successful relationships. Without proper and respectful communication, misunderstandings and resentment often occur. 

Why is Parent-Teacher Communication Important?

Successful parent-teacher communication creates a positive environment for a child to learn. When parents and teachers freely share information about the child, their skills, growth, areas of development, and struggles, they can work as a team to ensure the child reaches their full potential.

Parent-teacher communication is how a parent builds a relationship with their child’s teacher or caregiver and establishes trust and respect. Children mimic what they see their parents do, so when a parent treats the teacher respectfully and kindly, the child is likely to do the same. 

Teachers who communicate regularly about their classroom and what the children are accomplishing create a window through which parents can view their child’s daily life. Therefore it is essential teachers maintain regular communication with parents. Likewise, the parent must read and listen to these communications and respond when appropriate. 

Benefits of a Strong Parent-Teacher Relationship

Many developmental benefits, particularly social-emotional and language, stem from a positive parent-teacher relationship.

  • Creates consistency for the child
  • Teaches respect for adults and authority figures
  • Teaches a commitment to duties and follow-through
  • Demonstrates appropriate and respectful conversation skills
  • Displays teamwork and collaboration
  • Creates several safe adults a child can talk to 

If a child sees their parents and their teacher communicating well, even on disagreements, they will learn how to express themselves respectfully, engage in conversations appropriately, and understand that the adults in their lives care for them. However, parents and teachers should never discuss sensitive issues about the child’s behavior, performance, or other concerns in front of the child. 

How to Conduct Successful Communication

Successful communication is challenging at times, especially on heated or sensitive topics, and what’s more sensitive than a person’s child? However, it is essential to the success of the parent-teacher relationship to conduct all communication, whether written or verbal, respectfully.

Listen more than you speak.

Allow the person to finish speaking before interjection

Re-phrase what the other person said to be sure you understood

“If I understood you correctly….”

“If I’m hearing you correctly….”

“Correct me if I am wrong, but I heard….”

Remain courteous and calm

Be aware of your emotions 

Use “I feel” statements to express yourself 

Avoid assigning blame

Respect the other person’s time and preferred method of communication

Never speak negatively about the school and the teacher or the home situation and the parent in front of the child. 

In the end, the takeaway is always to remain respectful when interacting with a parent or a teacher, to listen and process the other’s concerns, and to remember to keep the child’s best interest at the forefront of the communication.