family including child attend a parent-teacher conference

How parents and teachers can work together better - Part 2


(Read Part 1) Be guided by the idea that each person is only seeing things through their own lens, and must make a concerted effort to see things from the other side. Ask questions. Be prepared to work together to create solutions.

  1. Remember it’s all about teamwork between parents and teachers, with the child’s best interests at heart, not about who’s “right”, “wrong” or “to blame”.  As well as being your child’s advocate, your role is to be a clear communicator, a good listener, and someone who’s prepared to work collaboratively with the school. When there’s a definite problem occurring at school that needs a specific management plan, most schools are very keen to work collaboratively with parents.

  2. Encourage children to sort out their own problems themselves, when they can. (For example, not being chosen for a team or as class president, not getting a good mark because they handed in a project late.) Promote resilience by providing just enough support, but no more.

  3. Be prepared to talk to the teacher/school if needed. For example, if there’s something happening at home which your child’s school needs to know about, or if there are concerns about schoolwork, bullying, or behaviour, it’s appropriate for you to bring it up for discussion.

  4. Make an appointment. Don't spring your concerns on a teacher who is rushing, and don’t make what should be a private conversation into a public confrontation.

  5. Start with your child's teacher rather than the principal. The teacher has the day-to-day relationship with your child and will know them best. It’s not a good idea to go over their head before you’ve given them a chance to work the problem out with you.

  6. Be clear about the issue. Carefully think through beforehand what you intend to say, and stick to the topic at hand. Consider writing an agenda for everyone at the meeting.

  7. Be non-confrontational and avoid blaming, accusing and making assumptions. Avoid being too defensive of your child. As well as talking, listen. Stay calm and summarise what you think the other person has just said to see if you understand correctly. Brainstorm solutions together.

  8. Be honest if you’re having difficulties with your children and talk about what you’ve tried so far.  The school may not realise you’re aware of the problem. By being prepared to share your concerns, it gives the school an opportunity to listen to what you have to say. The school is likely to react positively when they know you’re taking responsibility and working independently to try to fix the problem. And there may need to be a school-related solution as well. Once they're aware of your concern, they can review how things are going in the classroom and may be able to make adjustments.

  9. Ask the teacher what strategies they have tried. This will help you work out to what extent the school’s management strategy and yours are similar or different. If there’s a big difference between the school’s approach and yours, it’s worth reviewing and agreeing on a more consistent approach.

  10. Do a review. After you’ve worked out a possible solution together, part of the plan should be a regular chat to discuss how things are going, so you can work together to monitor progress and make changes if required.