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Sunday, May 1, 2011

Your Child’s Third Parent (By Anshu Basnyat, LCPC)

            So you didn’t know that your child has a third parent huh? Their name collectively is The Teacher.  This week is National Teacher Appreciation Week across the United States and I wanted to focus on this subject in honor of these special people in our lives.  The Teacher is arguably the second most important person in a child’s life (parents being first).  It makes sense when you consider the amount of time a child spends at school. Having worked in the schools for many years in various roles, I have learned how paramount the teacher’s role is.  The Teacher teaches not only the academic subjects and manages every child’s unique behaviors, but also teaches pro-social behaviors such as manners, public speaking skills, assertiveness skills, conflict resolution, and the list goes on and on.  My respect for this profession has multiplied exponentially after working in the schools.  In fact, I feel we should consider The Teacher as our child’s Third Parent and cultivate this relationship accordingly.  We know that a positive parent-teacher relationship contributes to our child’s school success, so why not do everything we can to nurture this?

            The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) states:  
Recent studies show that when families are involved in their children’s education in positive ways, the children achieve higher grades and test scores, have better attendance at school, complete more homework, and demonstrate more positive attitudes and behavior.  Reports also indicate that families who receive frequent and positive messages from teachers tend to become more involved in their children’s education than do parents who do not receive this kind of communication (

10 Ways to Foster a Positive Parent-Teacher Relationship:
1.       Good Communication (via Emails, notes, etc.)
2.       Approach the relationship as a collaborative effort
3.       Let your child and teacher develop their own relationship
4.       Reflect on your own relationship with your teacher while growing up and leave any emotional baggage at the door
5.       Find the right time to communicate with The Teacher
6.       Get to the heart of the matter because The Teacher's time is premium
7.       Attend parent-teacher conferences
8.       Come prepared to parent-teacher conferences
9.       Ask how you can support your child at home
10.   Give The Teacher power in your home

Please allow me to elaborate on the last point. My son’s Teacher has lot of power in our home and I have told her this. This way our son knows that his Teacher and we are on the same page and The Teacher knows your support is there.  This speaks to the consistency issue that I have covered in past blog posts.   

Here are some of the ways we accomplish this in our home. One way is that his Teacher would let our son know that she will be contacting me for his negative behaviors. Our son gets home and reports this will happen.  Sure enough, an email would arrive that same day or the next day explaining the situation.  My husband and I address it with our son together and follow-up with his Teacher. At the beginning of the school year we were doing quite a bit of this until we resolved it.   

Giving The Teacher power in the home also comes in handy when our son does something inappropriate at home like talk very loudly and I ask him if he does that at school. He says “no” and I tell him "good" and that he shouldn’t be doing it at home either. This works too, although he may throw in a grunt at times!    

Or, when our son wants to sleep in our bed at night for no good reason, I may say: “Hmm, I wonder what Ms. R. would say about a big boy like you wanting to sleep with his parents?” He smiles and doesn’t further pursue the matter. I should add that I use this last strategy sparingly so as not to shift the power balance in our home.  After all, we are the parents and we do assume most of the responsibility for our kid. Anyhow, I stumbled across this tactic one day, and it works like magic!         

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