Can We Talk? How to Effectively Communicate with Your Child’s School

From Birmingham Parent

It’s a given that parental involvement is key to success in school. Yet for many parents, visiting their child’s school can be an intimidating, even humbling, experience. And if you need action from the school to resolve an issue with your child, the school can seem overwhelming. To overcome your own anxiety, you have to get comfortable, and the best way is to become involved with your child’s school. This is particularly important if your child has special needs. Parents should make an appointment and visit their child’s school well before any issue arises.

When you need something done, take a breath, don’t be demanding and do follow the school’s procedures for visiting classrooms, taking tours or reaching teachers. At MJHS, teachers are best contacted via email. If you need to make an appointment with one teacher in particular, email that teacher or call the front office (640-2040) and ask to leave a message for him or her. If you need to make an appointment with more than one teacher, contact the counselor’s office, where your meeting will be coordinate with all necessary teachers. Be sure to attend any meetings where your child’s educational goals and decisions are being addressed.

The transition from middle school to jr. high school can be turbulent for kids and parents. Just when your preteen is telling you to back off, he or she needs your support and guidance as much as ever. Parents need to stay involved, and home and school communication is more crucial than ever before. Many parents are completely unaware of what services jr. high schools provide and how to reach the key school personnel. If you are not sure who you need to contact about what, it’s okay to call the front office (640-2040) and ask. Also, parents need to be aware and read all packets and newsletters provided by the child’s school.

Many students who maintained acceptable grades throughout elementary and middle school experience a drop in grades once they reach 7th grade. For this reason, parent-teacher conferences are crucial during the jr. high years—and it’s important that parents follow up on any suggestions the teachers offer for improving their child’s performance. Parents should not hesitate to contact the school counselor for assistance with academic, behavioral or social/emotional issues. Using a team approach, jr. high school teachers, counselors and administrators can help your child overcome school problems, but it helps to know that you, too, are on the team.

Parents should listen to their jr. high schoolers and talk to them daily about school. It is normal for a child to become more secretive and desire more privacy during adolescence; however, if your child refuses to share information about school or friends, you may want to contact the school counselor. When problems arise with students at any grade level, immediate parental communication and involvement is imperative. Experts agree that it is best to already have a rapport with key people in your child’s school before any concerns arise. It is much more emotionally charged to have to deal with problems the first time you interact with school personnel.

In most cases, teachers and other school professionals are making a diligent effort to be fair and honest. Unless the adult in charge is truly unreasonable, support the school’s course of action. In doing so, you will promote social growth in your child and encourage responsibility. In rare cases, if you honestly believe your child is wronged or unfairly treated, politely speak to an administrator to explore your concern. Remember, you are your child’s best advocate, but school personnel are also here to support your child. Even though they may not always seem fair at first appearance, school rules are in place for a reason and must be followed.

Parents are the child’s first teachers and remain an integral part of the educational process and community. Without parental involvement, there is a key component missing. Be involved and stay informed to ensure your child’s success in school.


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