Welcome to A Kid's Life.
For last 20 years Angela Lockwood has been engaging with kids, empowering parents and educating professionals teachers to navigate a child's learning journey to help them thrive.
Through the A Kid's Life podcast Angela Lockwood’s goal is to help us adults better understand the complexities of life as a kid. Angela and her guests share stories, reflections and simple strategies to support kids of all needs as they walk through life. Whether you’re a parent, teacher or health professional, A Kid's Life Podcast is the place for you.
Building a positive relationship with your child's teacher.
An important relationship in ensuring your child has a positive experience at school is establishing a positive relationship with your child's teacher. In this episode Angela Lockwood shares ways to establish a build a positive relationship from day one. Appreciating the role each other has in supporting your child to become a capable student will allow them to thrive in all aspects of the school experience.
Thanks for listening to the podcast. For more tips on parenting and supporting your child through their learning journey, follow at www.angelalockwood.com.au
Welcome to A Kid’s Life Podcast.
I’m Angela Lockwood and in today’s episode we’re going to be looking at how you as a parent can build a positive relationship with your child’s teacher. It's an interesting one that is now here so many times in my work in supporting schools around inclusion where it’s been. It’s a difficult conversation to have with a new teacher about your child and particularly if your child has been having some difficulties at school with engagement or with their learning or with making friends.
This conversation is vital to helping your child be successful this school year even in the school years already started. It is definitely not too late. In fact right now is a really good time for you to have these conversations with your child’s teacher now some schools are really proactive around this. They will be setting up meetings with parents. They will be already communicating with you around how if your child has additional needs or is needing additional support at school then you might of already had an appointment if you with your teacher or with the schools inclusion teacher if you haven’t and you haven’t heard anything from them than parents it’s time to be proactive and reach out to your teacher child’s teacher and have a conversation with them now.
Even if your child is new just to the year and you want to have a conversation with your child’s teacher about who they are, what they enjoy, best ways to engage with them, things they are excited about with their learning. I am an occupational therapist but I have for 20 years been working alongside teachers in schools so I know schools really well and I’ve seen teachers I’ve been there to support teachers in better understanding the students in their class and their students need learning needs their emotional needs and how they can help the students be the most capable kids they possibly can be and so I am very fortunate to be able to hear questions from teachers around how they can better engage with students which I absolutely love because that means that they care about that student. They care about those kids so I know straight away that it’s going to be a good year.
It’s unfortunately the teachers who I know are having difficulty engaging with a child that don’t ask for help and they just try to work it out themselves that I know that it’s going to be a struggle for them and for the students in the class because there is not that connected relationship been developed so I would much rather a teacher say I’m not quite sure how to engage with this kid or I’m trying this and it’s not working, what do you suggest, because it means they care and care is a vital when building relationships with kids.
For you as a parent it’s also important for you to be your child’s best support, an advocate, but there are ways in which you can do this that will help build a really positive relationship with your child’s teacher, and I often feel in my role consulting into schools that I am a little bit like piggy in the middle, sometimes that I, but rather than looking like I’m trying to be feeling like I can bring together between the teachers at school, the child and the therapy team so that we can make sure that what is best for that child is happening. As a parent there are things that I’d love to share with you that I know, and then I’ve seen parents do really poorly or they’ve done really well and it’s helped create a successful experience for the child.
Parents do the best they can with the knowledge that they have, but sometimes our approach can feel be a little bit alienating for the child or it can be really sometimes aggressive to a teacher and we need to love and look after our teachers because they are doing the best that they can with what they know as well.
So how can we build this really positive relationship with the child’s teacher? In my program for teachers The Holistic and Inclusive classroom, I have a whole module on how teachers can best approach parents and create really positive relationships with parents so don’t worry it’s not all about the parents. In the Holistic and Inclusive Classroom program I have for teachers I speak to them around what are the base things they can do, really practical things they can do if they have a concern about a student. How can they best approach and communicate with a parent those concerns. If you know a teacher who would love to know that type of knowledge and you know that they care, but they need additional support themselves, then maybe recommend The Holistic and Inclusive Classroom program I have over at www.angelalockwood.com.au. It’s completely all online and they have access to all the resources they need in order to create these classrooms that really bring out the best in the kids and create a really capable learning experience for their students. So yeah be an advocate recommend a program. I love that program and I know it’s helped so many teachers and shaped their teaching approach.
I’m building really good relationships with parents but back to you back to what you can do as a parent to build a positive relationship with your child’s teacher. First thing is it’s never too late so if you are thinking of already missed the boat with connecting with your child’s teacher this year you have not, in fact it’s a really good time right now to say hi to them. If you haven’t already let them know that you’re there. Let them know that you want a relationship with them that is open that if there’s any concerns or in any good stuff, any of the good achievements that you are there to support your child and them now unfortunately too many times when we hear from teachers it is about something going wrong so it could be about an incident that happened at school or that they’re falling behind in their work or they haven’t done their readers or whatever it is what we want to do.
This is what I talk to teachers about, is to have conversations with our teachers that are positive as well. You know that we are saying we are celebrating the achievements of the child, all the effort that they’re putting in or hearing the good stuff as well because I know so many times in particular working with parents that they even see the number from their school pop-up on their phone and they worry and I know that it’s either something behavioural that the child’s been injured, or they owe money! When a schools’ number pops up I do this myself with my own kids. The school number pops up and I think I know what’s happened, but we don’t want that all the time so let’s have a look as a parent.
What can you do to build this positive relationship?
- The first one is knowing that it’s not too late. It’s never too late and particularly if your child is at a new school really important it’s not just a teacher. It might also be the principal or the leader of well-being that you are needing to connect in with. It doesn’t have to be you’re not going take them out on a date or your night you’re not needing to give them an email like War and Peace but what you are doing is reaching out saying hi I’m here if there’s anything I can do to support I am willing and able or might be. I would also suggest something a bit more formal when you say I would really like to come in and sit with you and just go through some things to consider when working with my child that I think would be really beneficial. Now it’s really important for a parent not to try to be the teacher either. The teacher is there as the expert in what they’re doing and they are needing to learn about your child around how they fit in with the classroom as well and they know the learning structure. So your tips and your strategies are really important but we also need to give that trust to the teacher as well that they know what they’re doing so a great meeting right at the beginning is to go. “We’re here, we’re in this together and these are the things about my child.” I’d love you to know and that’s it okay so that's the first step if you are wanting to talk to your teacher.
- Timing. I know one thing teachers can’t stand is being bombarded at the end of the school day. Bell goes their needing to get to bus lines and then needing to get to you know other things after school care all these things and a parent knocks on the door walks in and talk to them for half an hour and your teachers are so lovely that they are not wanting to stop that conversation and this point is around but just being aware of your timing. I know the teachers are super super busy people you know their days are very very structured in timing but there is so much that goes on in this timing that yeah they’re more than willing to talk to parents of course and they in fact they really embrace usually and usually I’m going to say, hopefully usually that they embrace having these conversations with parents, particularly if a child is not well or is that something is happened in the family that might impact on how the child is at school that particular day. Teachers really need to know that but just be aware of your timing and if it is just a quick hand, eg; “Just want to let you know that Billy's didn’t have a great sleep last night because we had a dinner out.” It’s good for them to know that and I’ll say thanks and then that’s it and it might if it’s something that needs a longer conversation booking a time in with your teacher that would be really welcome because that way they can sit and give you their undivided attention, knowing that they’re not leaving a line full of kids, getting on the bus on their own, and I think it’s important building.
- A positive relationship with your child’s teacher is to get involved in the classroom and what I mean by getting involved in the classroom, it’s not to become one the new teachers aids or or becoming their offsider, particularly in the younger years of primary school. A lot of classrooms embrace having teacher helpers and this could be something in just going in and covering books, or it might be in helping with the readers in the morning, the reading group in the morning and reading to the students it might be in baking something for the swimming carnival.Schools really thrive on a community based mindset so having parents involved and one thing I do know in working in schools and being a parent myself is often it’s the same parents that do everything and I understand that this is often because of work or because of other commitments might be because of little tiny kids, but it usually is, and often is parents the same parents doing the same thing all the time and I have and see it people say “no wonder Billy got picked for that because his mums always at school”. I’ve heard those conversations which are terrible but I’ve heard them before but one of the things we do as parents is if we can be involved and I don’t mean take over but if we can be involved in our children’s learning journey there not only is it more rewarding for your child but it’s also really rewarding for you as a parent because you get to connect with the other parents. You get to connect with the teachers and your develop in foster this really positive relationship with your school community and it gives you that sense of vibrancy and involvement in this rich tapestry of your child’s learning experience so being involved becoming a parent reader, if you can or you’re dropping things off for you at the bakehouse, the fundraiser, it might be the school disco. Can you help in any way? Those sort of things allow you to see your teacher as well as your child’s teacher in a way that they are just humans. Teachers are humans. Yes they teach our children and you’re there in a very important role but if they can see you as a human, you see them as a human. Of course it’s going to bridge that lovely connection with them as well. So being involved in this in your child’s learning journey is a way that you can foster this really positive relationship with your child’s teacher as well know what if you are concerned about what’s happening with your child how can you develop that relationship so that you can address that with the teacher.
- I’m going to go back to my first point around thinking about the timing of when you want to address these with your child’s teacher so if it is something where you want to sit with them and talk, then of course create an appointment. Our office schools nowadays have apps that you are using to communicate with your child’s teacher. It is a way where schools now want to develop open communication that is quick and timely with parents so use it. Ask them if you can meet with them. It might be “can I just pop in this afternoon? I want to talk to you about something I’ll let you know that’s happening with my child”. It could be a concern around a friendship, it could be that you’re realising that they’re not wanting to go to school in the morning or it might be that “hey we’ve got a family issue that’s happening at the moment”, either there might be a grandparent that’s not well I want I need you to know about this and what can I do to support my child through this or it might be hey, we may not get to doing the homework for the next week or so because we’ve got this this is happening. So just be aware of your timing and around what you want to chat with them about and be really specific around what your concerns are.
- Be specific. Sometimes I hear things like parents and teachers will make really global comments like they’re just not enjoying school or they have no friends or don't want to come to school. You know these are important things to say, but the more specific that you can get. It allows a teacher to really understand what’s going on so you might say something like when my child came home last night from school, they said that they felt XYZ eating after lunch and then that way what you preparing the teacher can say is okay it will there’s obviously something that’s going on at lunch and then feeling like that. What can I do to help first of all the incidents or whatever is happening at lunch not occur and they’re aware that when they see the child looking flat or being upset they know that there could be something happening at lunchtime and so they can step in and support them. So being really specific about your concerns allows that relationship with a teacher rather than develop in a way that they can actually come up with a solution, or they can find ways to better support your child rather than global comments, and as I said before in the holistic and inclusive classroom, I talk to teachers around how they can also raise concerns with parents where it’s not just about “He doesn’t concentrate or I’m really concerned about her. How can they be really specific so that parents receive the information in a different way as well okay so be aware of your timing make time with the teacher be really specific about concerns and the last one is about how can you come together and make us and Sara come up with a solution or a plan and successful schools are really focused on having these relationships with parents developed, and when you can come up with a way forward together particular, if you have a concern about your child or even about their experience in the classroom, having a solution together and coming up, the solution together allows for that to become more successful.
There’s a stronger likelihood that teachers are going to be invested, you're going to be invested and your child is going to be invested as well that don’t forget to be involved in the school community being involved in. Things also allow you to develop that relationship with your child’s teacher. Now we’ve talked about how you can build a positive relationship with your top child’s teacher. It really all boils down to one thing: having respect. Realising that there’s a respectful relationship between you, the teacher and the student or your child and will set up so many different experiences in such a lovely rich relationship for you to build on every single gear and I’ve got teachers who are amazing who will do this naturally but then there’s teachers who are they don’t do it as naturally in fostering parent relationships, it just being mindful that yeah you might have to step forward a little bit and do this yourself.
You know, really instigate that relationship with them doesn’t mean you need to become best friends with them or you need to go to have coffee with them. It’s just showing them that you’re there, you’re interested and that if something pops up we can do this together. I’m hoping that really helps you with how you can start to build a positive relationship with your child’s teacher, and if you think your child’s teacher would really benefit from The Holistic and Inclusive Classroom online program that I have please recommend it to them over at www.angelalockwood.com.au and all the information is on there for them. Until next time I would encourage you to go and reach out if you haven’t already to your child’s teacher and just say hi say thanks and say let them know you’re looking forward to a really positive year working with them and supporting your child. It will do wonders for how you, your child and your teacher experiences this year.
Thanks for joining me everyone if you have any comments head on over to @angelalockwood there on Instagram DM me over there if you have any questions or would like me to cover any more topics that you might be struggling with with your child and I’d be more than happy to respond. Until next time, thanks for looking after your kids, stay safe and enjoy!