When our students reach high school, we continue to transition them into taking more responsibility and ownership of their academics and extracurriculars. As they take the reins and learn how to be organized and efficient with their time, these important skills help to set the foundation for long-term success. However advanced our teens may be, they are still teenagers developing amidst a big transitional period of their lives. That means we, as parents, still need to continuously guide and support them along the way.
Having healthy and transparent relationships with their teachers and mentors is a key component to being able to better provide this support to our students. Their teachers are their “parents” away from home, and knowing how best to communicate with these adult partners is crucial during this process. It’s important to understand when to interject and when to allow things to run without our parental participation.
When navigating relationships with your teen’s teachers, here are some important considerations:
1. Set up time to meet them.
This goes back to relationship advice 101. Whether they be interpersonal or business-oriented relationships, it’s important to make introductions and establish a rapport. This could be as simple as attending open-house night at the school and/or reaching out via email for a private parent-teacher conference. Please note, teachers are busy, so be patient. They may not get back to you immediately, so be aware and polite in your follow-ups.
2. Determine communication preferences.
Once you’ve had the opportunity to meet, be sure to ask them how they prefer to be communicated with. Teachers work with many students and therefore many parents as well. Clarifying with them how and when they’d prefer to be reached will help ensure you respect their time and also get a response as quickly as possible.
3. Find ways to stay involved.
There are many opportunities throughout the year to volunteer as a parent at your teen’s school. This is helpful not only in participating in the school community, but also in showing your support for the teachers that work there. A little bit goes a long way, so do what you can, when you can.
4. Express gratitude.
Everyone appreciates being acknowledged for their work. This is especially true for teachers who are often under fire from students, parents, and the administration alike. Teaching is a hard and demanding job! Take a moment to tell your student’s teacher how much you appreciate them and/or reach out when your student is doing well! Let them know that their hard work is paying off.
5. Help your teen at home.
In whatever capacity you can, help your teen establish good study habits at home. Help them find a quiet and motivating place to do their work to help them stay on top of their assignments. When your student is prepared and supported at home, they are more likely to do well at school too. This helps support the work the teachers are doing.
6. Communicate with your teen.
Your relationship with your teen is first and foremost. When you are trying to help them by establishing a relationship with their teacher, keep your student in the loop. This not only shows them respect, but also helps to build upon a parent-child partnership that does not impede their independence. Tell your student before you reach out to their teacher, and make sure you communicate what was discussed afterwards!