In the “A”-rated Litchfield Elementary School District, we rely on strong partnerships to offer academic rigor in a caring environment to more than 12,000 students. We often say that schools cannot do it alone, because we are aware that our educational excellence is tied directly to the support and engagement of our families and community.
The partnership between a child’s caregiver and teacher is particularly important to student achievement. It is impossible to overstate the value of a caregiver and teacher working in harmony to ensure a student’s care and education. Strong caregiver-teacher partnerships improve academic performance for children, enhance teacher retention rates, and foster a powerful sense of community.
School-home partnerships must adapt in the face of COVID-19. Here are some tips to help caregivers foster an effective partnership with their child’s teacher.
Be sensitive: In the face of COVID-19, many families are experiencing extreme hardship. The family of your child’s teacher may be one of them.
Be polite: Like caregivers, teachers are working hard to balance competing priorities in challenging times. Professional courtesy and kindness can strengthen the sense of teamwork and help your child’s teacher to focus on your child’s success. Thank you notes never go out of style.
Communicate frequently: Give your child’s teacher feedback about your child and their class. Teachers appreciate hearing what families like, as well as what could be improved. Your input has the power to influence important decisions in your child’s classroom.
Ask for help: In addition to being crucial to a child’s academic achievement, teachers also play a vital role in the social emotional development of their students. Teachers care deeply about their students and can be your partner in ensuring your child’s well-being. Engage your child’s teacher during challenging times such as an illness in the family, death of a family pet, or signs of depression in your child.
Be proactive: Address concerns immediately so that your child’s teacher can be responsive to your expectations. Be direct about what you and your child need.
Join the PTA/PTO: Caregivers can be better partners by joining the school’s parent organization. PTA/PTO membership is an easy opportunity to connect with other caregivers and become better informed about your child’s school family. Students, teachers, and families benefit when a robust parent organization helps to advance the mission of their school.
Update contact information: Make sure your child’s teacher knows the best way to communicate with you. Strong school-home communication depends on your teacher’s ability to reach you with important news and updates about your child and their class.
Caregivers and teachers have the power to help students thrive in the face of adversity. Building an effective partnership with your child’s teacher is a critical task and, like you, every teacher wants to achieve this goal. A strong school-home connection will lay the foundation for a child’s success at school and in life.
Editor’s note: Shelly Smith Hornback is director of community relations for Litchfield Elementary School District.