Parent-Teacher Collaboration

By — John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Updated on Jan 1, 2011

After an IEP is created, parents will likely have ongoing contact with teachers, who will share with parents on a regular basis a student's grades and progress. Consequently, it is important for parents to collaborate with teachers on issues related to their child's mastery of goals. Parent-teacher communication is an important part of a child's education. Her success depends, in large part, on the combined efforts of her teachers and parents to maintain ongoing contact. Not only do teachers communicate with one another and with school administrators, but they also communicate with parents—sometimes on a regular basis. Parents are a very important partner in a child's education, and good communication between school and home is essential.

Initiating Communication Between Parents and Teachers

The first step in parent-teacher communication is for parents and teachers to create a positive relationship with one another. Let's talk about some of the more popular methods of cultivating a good relationship.

Attend an Open House   We recommend that parents attend each open house that their child's school holds. This is an excellent opportunity for parents to meet their child's teachers face to face and get to know who they are. An open house is an informal setting that allows parents to ask general questions about what their child is doing in each class and to meet other parents, too. Teachers also have an opportunity to get to know parents and to learn more about the child. During an open house, teachers often display children's work as a way of displaying some of their accomplishments. If a child's work is displayed, it can be very rewarding for the child if his parent mentions the work and praises him for having his achievement recognized.

Volunteer in the Classroom   Another way for parents to be involved in their child's class is to be a classroom volunteer. While some principals will not assign parents to their child's room, being a room mother (or room father) is a possibility in many districts. Volunteering in another class can still provide many insights into what goes on in the school or in the classroom—for example, what happens daily or how a teacher manages her classroom. Volunteering provides the teacher with an extra set of hands and some welcome help. Teaching is a big responsibility that requires a great deal of planning and hard work, and typically, parents' offers to help are greatly appreciated.

Meet Early in the School Year   It's a good idea for parents to meet with their child's teacher (or teachers) before or immediately after a new school year starts. This meeting gives them an opportunity to discuss possible concerns, including the child's disability, his needs, and which classroom interventions have and have not worked. Parents should ensure that the new teacher has a copy of the child's special education file, including the IEP. While schools usually do a good job of making sure each teacher is aware of every student with a disability, a change in school leadership or teaching staff or a change in schools on the student's part may cause some things to be accidentally overlooked at the beginning of the school year, when things are likely to be very hectic.

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