Kawana Waters State College students Kaitlyn Mitchell, Samantha Mitchell and Jay Jenkins are eager to start the new school year.
Kawana Waters State College students Kaitlyn Mitchell, Samantha Mitchell and Jay Jenkins are eager to start the new school year. John McCutcheon

Bond with teachers helps children

A GOOD parent-teacher relationship is important to every child's learning journey and helps develop a memorable school experience.

That's the opinion of Sunshine Coast education expert Karen Campbell.

And like any relationship, she says these need nurturing and constant attention to be of benefit to the child.

With the new school year only a week away, many parents may be meeting their child's teacher for the first time.

"Parents have to realise that a teacher is such an important part of their child's life," Mrs Campbell, a tuition facilitator and former teacher, said.

"They need to introduce themselves to the teacher, and tell the teacher any special things about their child.

"Open communication is essential, so it's important for parents to inform the teacher if there's a problem at home such as a death, break-up or business failure.

"This allows teachers to develop an understanding and appreciate why a child may be behaving a certain way."

On the first day of school, a teacher meets many parents, making it hard for them to remember you and your child in the first instance.

Mrs Campbell suggests parents re-introduce themselves to their child's teacher at a later date, by appointment.

University of the Sunshine Coast Associate Professor of Education Michael Nagel said parents could make themselves known to teachers in various ways such as volunteering at their child's school.

"Volunteering is the best way for parents to get to know a teacher," he said.

"Teachers are extremely busy so they love any extra help.

"Parents can help out in school activities such as reading groups, swimming classes or anything else a teacher may need assistance with."

Teachers like parents to involve themselves in their child's learning by helping out with homework and school projects.

Prof Nagel encourages parents to be engaged in teaching their children, but highlighted the importance of adopting the correct learning techniques.

"Often, what students are doing today is much different to the way their parents were taught," he said.

"Maths is a good example of that, as a parent's teaching style may be outdated and could actually hurt their children's learning progress.

"Parents should speak with their child's teacher to make sure they're teaching the right way."

Good parent-teacher relationships are essential in any instance, especially with regard to misbehaving children.

Prof Nagel said parents of badly behaved children needed to form a strong parent-teacher bond so that the child received the correct punishment at home and at school.

"Parents and teachers need to plan a course of action collaboratively," he said.

"This ensures the child isn't being punished at home for the things they do in school and vice-versa.

"School life and home life have to be separated for the child to get the best results."

Dispute resolution was another key area where the parent and teacher needed to be compatible.

Prof Nagel said children could benefit from working through issues with other children by themselves, but parents needed to be aware of the process and the outcome.

"It all depends on the child and how they feel," he said.

"Children have varying degrees of self-esteem and some children are far more confident than others.

"It may be easier for a confident child to resolve their own problems, but it's important for parents to be involved, no matter what."

Sunshine Coast mother-of-two Leigh Sparkes said that in her experience, teachers were very accommodating with parents who wanted to build strong parent-teacher relationships.

"Teachers are very open to making contact with parents" she said.

"They strongly encourage it.

"My son's teacher actually gave me a letter on the first day of school last year, outlining her email address and phone number.

"Regular contact with teachers is very important and can only benefit a child's education."



For healthy parent-teacher relationships:

  • Re-introduce yourself to your child's teacher by appointment
  • Inform your child's teacher of any home-related problems
  • Volunteer to help with school activities
  • Make sure you adopt the same learning style at home as at school
  • Notify the teacher of any special talents or gifts your child may have
  • Open the lines of communication through casual conversations outside the classroom, for example, when dropping off your child or picking them up

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