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How to Build a Good Parent-Teacher Relationship

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Avoid these teacher pet peeves:

Chances are they'll be too nice to tell you this stuff to your face, so read it—and don't do it!

  1. Not knowing the school's discipline policies, and then getting upset if they're different from yours. If the teacher uses time-outs, and you protest because you don't like them, your child will be very confused. When choosing your child's school, make sure its philosophies match your own, or that you can at least respect them.

  2. Pressuring your child not to mess up or misplace her clothes. “It makes me feel bad when a child gets nervous about outdoor recess, and says, ‘My mom told me I can't lose another pair of mittens,’” says preschool teacher Lisa Andersen. “Most centers offer kids their own cubby and box. If you can, buy extra hats and gloves and leave them there.”

  3. Trying to discuss a problem during dropoff or pick-up. Your child's teacher is busy saying hi and goodbye to a whole bunch of kids and parents. And if you want to discuss a subject that isn't appropriate to talk about in front of your child, he could pick up on it, even if he seems to be busy playing or talking to his friends.

  4. Being late for Circle Time. Many preschools start the day by gathering all the children in a circle to do things like discuss the weather, and also to preview the schedule of the day's events. It's a crucial part of the routine, and if your child misses it, she might feel a little lost, especially if she's the only one who isn't clued in.

How to score brownie points with the teacher:

  1. Share your child's special interests during any tours or visits you make. That way, the guide can steer your kiddo toward the parts of the classroom that will appeal to her the most.
  2. Label what kind of sandwich you've packed, if it isn't obvious. “We have a no-peanuts rule, and if you've used another nut butter or sunflower butter instead, it'll save us a call home to double-check,” explains preschool teacher Sarah Connor.

  3. Let your child know each morning who will be picking her up at the end of the school day. It will keep your kid from feeling anxious that no one will show up.

  4. Check the spare clothes in your child's cubby every couple of weeks to make sure they're still right for the season and your child hasn't outgrown them.

What your kid's teacher wants you to do at home:

What are the most important things you can do to help your kid do well in school? Behold, a teacher's ultimate wish list…

  1. Ask Specific Qs Swap “Did you have a good day?” for more detailed and specific questions, such as “What have you been doing in math?” and “Who sits at your table?” These conversation-starter queries will give you a better glimpse into her world, as well as help her gain the social skills she needs for school.
  2. Play Games Kids spend so much time using technology that the basics of playing fair and taking turns are often going by the wayside—hence more frustration and tears in the schoolyard. Pull out your classic board games or play rock, paper, scissors to teach fundamental game-playing skills and rules.
  3. Stop Trying to Wipe Shoes and Noses She can do it! Maybe not the first time, but hang in there and be consistent. The task will require your guidance initially, but slowly remove yourself from the situation. Her sense of independence may even rub off on her classmates. Your kid, the trendsetter!
  4. Read What the Teacher Sends Home Take time every day to check your child's backpack for permission slips, class newsletters, and the like. It'll help you know what's going on at school and help her be prepared. Neither one of you will be happy if, say, you forget it's school picture day!
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