You have the power to build positive parent teacher relationships during this school year. Here are 5 to get you started. Next week, come back for 5 more.

The other day I dashed into Walmart for deodorant, took a wrong turn, and ended up in the school supply aisle. It was teeming with moms and kids intent on filling their back-to-school lists. A little boy thrust his wrist, decorated with a slap bracelet cum 12″ ruler, under my nose and said, “See what I’m getting for school?”

Immediately my heart went out to the boy’s teacher who, if she knew what she was doing, would tell the child to put the bracelet into his backpack and take it home. My heart also went out to the boy, whose dreams of dazzling classmates with the dual purpose ruler were shortly to be dashed.

I wanted to curse the manufacturer of the bracelet for creating stupid junk that wastes parents’ money, distracts students from learning, and makes every teacher’s job harder. Instead I decided to write this blog series, based on 25 years of classroom experience, about how to build positive parent-teacher relationships as a new school year begins. These tips work well for parents of kids with special needs and for typical siblings, too. We’ll look at 5 tips today and 5 more next week.

5 Ways to Build Positive Parent-Teacher Relationships

Tip #1: Stick to the Shopping List

You’ll do your child and the teacher a great service by purchasing only what’s on the official back-to-school shopping list. Yes, your child will beg for a bigger box of crayons, the folder with the year’s hottest super hero or princess on the cover, and the slap bracelet cum ruler. Don’t give in to their begging. There are reasons those items aren’t on the shopping list: your child doesn’t need them, the teacher doesn’t want them, and your budget won’t survive if you keep giving in.

Tip #2: Watch What You Say in Front of the Kids

Your kids listen when you talk to friends and family about school. When you’re positive about your child’s teacher and school, your child is more likely to be positive, too. But if you speak negatively about those things, your child will definitely absorb what you say. Even before your child arrives at school, she’ll have a negative bias about the school year. That’s not fair to your child or the teacher. They’re the ones who’ll be working together for 6 hours a day, 5 days a week for the next 9 months. By watching what you say, you can increase the chances of a good school experience for your kids.

Tip #3: Count to Ten

Because your child is a child, he will inevitably come home with stories about things that happened at school. When those stories make you hot under the collar, step back and count to ten. Counting to ten will help you calm down and remember that you’re hearing only one side of the story. It will give you time to pray and decide if the matter is worth pursuing. If you do need to pursue it, counting to ten gives you time to frame questions to ask your child and who to contact to hear the rest of the story.

Tip #4: Check Your Attitude

Very often what someone says about school reflects their attitude about school. If your thoughts about school are generally more negative than positive, stop and think for a few minutes. Is the negativity rooted in your child’s school experiences or in your experience with school when you were a child? If the second is the root of your attitude, perhaps you are you letting your past negative experiences color your child’s present ones. If that’s the case, now is the time for you to deal with those experiences and get over them so they don’t weigh your child down.

Tip #5: Be Grateful

One way to free yourself of negative attitudes rooted in the past is to be grateful for what you have in the here and now. So make a list of things your family is grateful for as the school year begins. Did school supplies cost less than what you budgeted? Write it on the list. Do you have lunches planned and prepared for the first week? Write it down. Did your dad agree to pick up the kids after school so you don’t have to? Write it down. Is your child and his best friend in the same class? Write it down. Once you start looking for reasons to be grateful, you’ll become more grateful and much less negative.

Did you notice that the first 5 tips about how to build positive parent-teacher relationships are things you have the power to change? Isn’t that the way it is? Come back next week for 5 more tips that have the power to make this school year a great one for your child.

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