As an elementary school teacher, at the beginning of each school year, I’m always hopeful that parents will take an interest in their child’s schooling. I hope they’ll come to Orientation Day and introduce themselves to me, or send a note that tells me just a little bit about their child. Small actions like these make me think, “this parent cares, and she wants me to get to know her child”. This kind of parent-teacher collaboration is essential to a child’s success.

Children perform best in school when parents and teachers function as a team committed to their success. So with that in mind, here are just a few ways you can show your child’s teacher that you care about his or her wellbeing and performance in the classroom:

During the first week of elementary school, your child will need at least half the items on his supply list, and the other half very soon thereafter. Your child should show up on the first day with notebooks in hand and pencils sharpened, just in case there are introductory activities scheduled. When a teacher sees this, she knows she has parents she can count on. Many children don’t show up with sufficient school supplies and we have to hand out supplies from our meager budgets. When your child shows up with all his supplies, you make our jobs much less overwhelming. If you can’t afford supplies, by all means let us know in advance.

Reaching out to your child’s teacher is another way to show that you care. This shows that your child’s education is important to you and that you support your child’s teacher. Whether you speak to his teacher at Orientation or send a brief letter of introduction, the teacher will know that you are approachable and interested. It also helps forge a friendly alliance, so that you and the teacher can avoid confrontation in the event that an unfortunate incident should happen during the year.

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Whenever you speak to your child’s teacher and discuss something specific, make sure you follow through. For a teacher, there is nothing better than knowing that you can speak with a parent who will handle a situation at home so it does not escalate in the classroom. This is true of disciplinary and academic issues. When you follow through, show that teacher you care by writing a note explaining how you handled the situation.

Teachers also appreciate e-mails or notes throughout the year expressing concern, asking questions and offering support. A thank you note when you feel we are doing a good job makes us feel rewarded and happy to be making a difference in your child´s life.