Not only do teachers educate and guide our children, ensure they remain dressed correctly throughout the day and don’t run away, but they also receive a private insight into their personal world. Teachers get to know a child’s family through the child’s eyes, and they get to see how they behave without their parent present. Teachers are allies, and there are some questions that teachers want parents to ask them.

American author and educator Helen Keller once said, “Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.” Never is this more true than in education where the triangular relationship between school, student and parent is paramount for the growth of the student. “The triangle is the strongest shape in architecture but without one side of its structure, it folds and collapses,” explains Bernadette Ward, a Wellbeing Coordinator at Australian International School (AIS). “Education follows a similar pattern. When parents, students and schools act in tandem the results are far more significant than when they find themselves acting individually.”

So, how can we build and strengthen this triangle to ensure a healthy relationship between the three groups? The answer is communication.

“In all areas, dialogue, agreement and a shared vision, as well as clear expectations from all parties involved, leads to greater outcomes for the student,” adds Duncan Rose, also a Wellbeing Coordinator at AIS.  

With this in mind, here’s what parents can consider enquiring about: 

  •  What are the expectations for my child?

Knowing the school’s expectations might sound obvious but this is a multifaceted issue. It covers the areas of effort, expectations in terms of decorum, dress, attitude, speech, workload, schedule, and much more. Having a full understanding of the expectations will better place a parent to help their child make appropriate decisions, which in turn will improve the chance of their success at school. This can be as simple as understanding the uniform policy so that students don’t start the day by being spoken to by staff, through to the homework allocation, so you can understand roughly how much work should be done at home. By showing interest and learning you’ll make your child aware that you’re interested in their life and development. Sometimes the very act of showing you care can be enough to knock problems on the head before they happen.

  •  How can I help my child?

Students spend around 35 hours a week at school. This is not nearly enough to fulfil the rigorous requirements of twenty-first century curriculums. Part of a child’s journey is the actualisation of developing independence of thought and autonomous study skills. However, that won’t happen if they are left to their own devices. Parents should ask what they can do to help. It could be as simple as overseeing their homework. It might be helping out with flashcard-making. Maybe it’s being the audience for a dress rehearsal of a presentation. Getting involved in your child’s education builds connections and shows them that what they’re doing greatly matters to you, as well as to the school. 

  •  How can I best communicate with teachers?

Every school has preferred methods of communication with staff. Generally, the easiest way to contact teachers is via their school email addresses, and a response should be given within 48 hours. For more urgent or sensitive matters, it may be more appropriate to call staff and share information. For subject related questions, it’s best to contact your child’s subject teacher directly and for social-emotional support, contact your child’s Home Group Teacher, or Head of Year or School Counsellor, as you deem appropriate. 

Sharing information that can better assist teachers in helping your child is critical. They may have strengths that are not immediately apparent, and talking to staff will help to promote these, as well as identify and extend new ones. 

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