Tips From Our Teachers: Building Partnerships with Your Child’s Teachers

Elena Sherwood was awarded the Early Childhood Educator Award and $10,000 from Knowledge Universe for her outstanding teaching skills in 2012. (Photo: Wendy Carlson for Getty Images)

It truly does take a village to raise a child! If your child is in a quality care and education center like KinderCare, there’s a wonderful opportunity for you as a parent to partner with your child’s teachers. Teachers have years of experience working with children and families, care deeply for the children in their classrooms and have a strong desire to partner with parents.

The most important thing to know is that teachers want to help. If there’s a concern or question that you have, bring it up! Teachers can help families navigate a variety of issues, including behavioral concerns, transition difficulties and much more. Here are tips on building partnerships with teachers from Quality and Accreditation Advisor Linda Nelson, and seasoned teachers and winners of the coveted Knowledge Universe Early Childhood Educator Awards, Elena Sherwood, Kristen Southard and Lisa Anderson.

Ways to Communicate

  • Sometimes drop-off and pickup times can be hectic for both parents and teachers. If this is making it difficult for you to have the dialogue you’d like to have with your child’s teacher, talk to him or her about when and how you can chat. Perhaps the teacher could call you during naptime or another less busy time of day. Or you could leave a note, or email your center director.
  • Once a week, take a little extra time to walk through the classroom with your child and discuss what they have been doing in the classroom and talk to the teacher. This can help you get a better sense of what your child is doing, how he or she is growing and helps build a rapport with the teachers.
  • If there’s specific information you want to know on your daily notes, let the teacher know. For example, how potty training is going. If you don’t bring it up, the teacher may not be aware that it’s top of mind for you.
  • If the child had a rough night, or was sad at drop-off, feel free to call and check in later in the day to see how he or she is doing. Center directors and teachers are there for you and are happy to reassure you or provide an update.
  • Let teachers know any context that might be helpful as the child’s day starts, for example, if the child was fussy in the morning. This sets both your child and his or her teacher up for success.
  • Before conferences, come with questions you have about how your child is doing and what her or she is learning. Also be prepared to listen to what the teachers have to say and to engage in an open dialogue with your child’s teacher.

Ways to Participate

  • Ask if there is anything you can do to help. For example, you could gather some materials with other parents for an upcoming activity. This provides a connection to the classroom and builds your relationship with the teacher.
  • The new family notes for preschool and pre-K children include questions to ask your child about the theme and what he or she is doing in the classroom. This will help you engage with your child about his or her day at school and continue building excitement about the learning that is taking place in the classroom.
  • If you have a profession that relates to a curriculum theme or have something you’d like to share with the class, this can enrich the curriculum and is a great way to participate in your child’s early education. Having guests share and letting kids ask questions is a wonderful way to add to the educational experience for the children.
  • Parents are welcome to come in anytime and read a book or do an activity with the class.
  • Some parents connect with other families over email and coordinate activities, for example, bringing in treats for teacher appreciation week. This gives them a connection to their child’s teachers as well as to other parents.
  • Talk to teachers about ways you can create consistency at home, for example, by using similar terms that the teachers use at home. This can help reinforce the learning, and young children feel more confident and comfortable when there is consistency.
  • Ask teachers what your child seems to be enjoying most in the classroom, because he or she may be beginning to display interests and preferences. Does she not like art but love doing math activities? Or prefer teacher-directed or self-directed activities? This can help you get to know your child a little better and guide the way you extend learning at home.

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