Introducing Your Child to the Teacher: How Honest Should You Be?
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You know your child inside and out, and have already realized that it takes tactful art to get his best work out of him. Whether it’s practicing writing his name or cleaning up his toys, there is definitely a right approach to inspiring him. With the kindergarten school year approaching rapidly, you’ve probably already thought a bit about the things you’d like the teacher to know about your child: What motivates him? What upsets him? What interests him?
While nobody wants to be “that” parent, the one who gushes unnecessarily about her child, it is important that your child be properly introduced to her teacher. Pam Wolf, M. Ed, and a ten-year year kindergarten veteran, is the Reading Specialist for Castro Valley Unified School District in California. She says that knowing a child is the first step to teaching her effectively. “Anything that is going to affect a child’s learning process is imperative for a teacher to know,” says Wolf.
“Many times teachers will ask parents to fill out a questionnaire about their child so that the teacher has some information about the child ahead of time. It might ask what motivates their child, what upsets them, what they like to be called, what their strengths and weaknesses are, etc.” explains Wolf. Some kindergarten teachers will even ask to meet parents and students before the school year starts in order to make introductions.
If your child’s teacher doesn’t ask for information, don’t fret. Often the beginning of the year is a hectic time for teachers, and just because they don’t solicit information from you doesn’t mean they don’t want it. Wolf suggests arranging a time with the teacher, either before the start of the school year or soon after it begins, to introduce yourself and your child.
Here are three rules of thumb when it comes to informing a new teacher about your child:
1. Spill It! While your child's everyday characteristics are important for you to convey to the teacher, more important are the pieces of information that have to do with her physical or emotional health. Allergies, injuries, and long-terms illnesses need to be communicated before the first day of school to insure your child’s safety and happiness. Events in your child’s life that could be traumatic should also be discussed with the teacher, such as a divorce or death in the family, or even a new brother or sister on the way. While things of that nature are often difficult to divulge to a stranger, “great teachers will work hard to build your trust and keep confidentiality," Wolf says. "Knowing what a child is dealing with outside of the classroom is a key factor in determining how the teacher should best respond to a student’s needs and behaviors.”
2. Put It in Writing! In the first days of school, teachers aren’t always able to connect a parent’s face with their child, or a name with a student’s face, so if you have important information that you’d like the teacher to know about your child, put it in writing. A teacher can look at it during a time when she can devote all of her attention to it. She'll also be able to refer back to it once she gets to know all her students and parents a little better.