5 Tips for Connecting with Your Child’s Classroom
By Rachael McGoldrick
Back-to-school is right around the corner, so I’ve put together a short list of tips for staying connected to your child’s classroom this year.
1. Attend Early Meetings
The most important information you need to know to navigate successfully through the school year is usually shared at the beginning of the year. Plan to attend all open houses, parent nights, etc. If you cannot make one, send a reliable sub who will take notes on items such as how the teacher prefers to communicate as well as her contact information, what materials students need, and information about student expectations. Collect all important paperwork from these early meetings and keep it handy in a file, folder, etc.
2. Set Up An E-mail Account
Although you should always use the teacher’s preferred method of communication, most teachers do prefer to communicate via e-mail. It is an effective way to reach parents quickly. Teachers are usually required to check their e-mail accounts throughout the day in order to receive correspondences from their principals, etc., so they’re often able to respond to parents immediately this way. If you don’t already have an e-mail account, it is easy and free to set one up. Visit www.google.com , www.yahoo.com , or another popular search engine to get started. Once you have an e-mail account, you can be added to a list of recipients for important communications from the school and the teacher. If you do not own a home computer, keep in mind that you may be able to use a computer where you work. Also, computers are available for free use in public libraries. If you live in an apartment building, most have a business center with computers and Internet access.
3. Help Out
Find out early on how you can be helpful to the teacher throughout the year. Does she need someone to make copies every Friday afternoon? Does he need help filing students’ work every Monday morning? If you work during school hours and are unable to come to the school, projects can often be sent home with your child for you to complete. This is especially true in the primary grades, where teachers need items cut out, labeled, hole-punched, etc. The teacher will usually provide all the materials needed in a bag. She just needs your time and energy!
4. Visit the Classroom
Be present in your child’s classroom as much as possible, but within reason! Aside from providing an opportunity to assist the teacher, a visit will offer you insight into your child’s daily environment and schedule. Just as you would arrange time off from your job to schedule an important medical appointment, make it a priority to visit your child’s classroom once a quarter or once a semester. Plan to be there for a couple of hours. Coordinate your visit with being able to help in the classroom in some way, and then culminate your visit by eating lunch with your child in the cafeteria. This will make a lasting, positive impression on your child and will strengthen the cooperative connection between home and school.
5. Get Giftcards!
At the risk appearing tacky, I am including this tip because it will go a long way toward winning your child’s teacher over. Giftcards are economical, practical, and much-appreciated! If you are not the room parent, approach him/her with the idea of everyone chipping in for a holiday/end-of-the-year giftcard to a shopping center or retail store, such as Target, Walmart, etc., in lieu of purchasing individual gifts. If each family contributes $5-$10, your child’s teacher will receive a generous gift that will thrill her more than all the scented hand-sanitizing gel, chocolates, and reindeer socks that money can buy!
Have a great year!
Rachael McGoldrick is an North Carolina certified teacher with years of experience in elementary classrooms. She’s also an Enrollment Consultant for Club Z! Tutoring of Greensboro.