The communication between parents and teachers creates a partnership in which everyone is working toward the same goal of helping the child achieve success. This also eliminates negativity, such as feelings of being left out of the process and helplessness in the face of problems. Here are guidelines for improving comunication.

For Parents

Attend the back-to-school night at your child's school. Listen to the teacher's presentation and set up an appointment to meet at a more convenient time if you have any specific questions or concerns. Sign up to volunteer in the classroom or at the school, if your personal schedule permits.

Give the teacher your email address in addition to your work and home phone numbers. Teachers are busy and usually find an email message quicker and therefore will contact you more frequently. Email questions instead of calling to save the teacher time.

Stop by to pick up your child occasionally and chat with the teacher briefly. Keep it short and positive. Let the teacher know you appreciate the hard work she does with students. Don't bring up problems at these short encounters.

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Bring problems to the teacher's attention in a positive manner, not by pointing fingers and trying to find someone to blame if your child is having difficulties. Always go to the teacher first, not a principal or administrator, and schedule the meeting with the teacher in advance.

Join the parent/teacher/student organization at your child's school and become an active member. Being seen around campus and getting known as a parent who participates in school events will put your in a positive light with all school staff.

Attend all conferences. This is an appropriate time to voice concerns you may have with your child's learning or behavior. Let the teacher know you value his input and that you view your relationship as a partnership in raising your child.

For Teachers

Start the year off on a positive note at your back-to-school presentation. Give an overview of your program and address frequently asked questions with PowerPoint or other format, such as a syllabus. Have a sign-up sheet to collect parent phone numbers and email addresses and let parents know you will be contacting them frequently to keep them up to date on school happenings.

Set up your email program to allow group mailings to all your parents with a single push of a button. Send weekly, biweekly or monthly newsletters by email. Send home a printed copy for those parents who don't have email.

Keep an electronic gradebook, which usually has an email function. Send home grade reports frequently, about every 2 to 3 weeks or after any major assignments. Make personal calls or emails to any student's parent if that student is failing or has a borderline grade so that parents will be informed in time to take proactive measures with their child before formal report cards go home.

Call or email if a child is absent from school to let parents know what the student missed in class. This personal touch shows you care about the child as well.

Join the parent-teacher-student organization on campus and become actively involved with all the parent members. Showing your support helps parents view you in a positive light as a caring member of the school faculty who goes beyond the required duties.

Create a website that can be accessed by students and parents. Keep the assignment area updated weekly and add any important notices. Parents appreciate being able to monitor what work is due and when so they can assist their child in time management skills. And you may receive less late work as well.