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Parent-Teacher Communication

Toddler and Teenager Expert Advice from Carleton Kendrick, Ed.M., LCSW

Q: How can I foster better communication between myself, my son's teacher and school administration? Sometimes my concerns seem to fall on deaf ears or a response is slow in coming delaying action to resolve an issue.

A: You are using the healthiest way to look at your problem by not blaming anyone and, instead, thinking of how better communication can be fostered. Whether it's being updated on your son's academic progress or talking to the school personnel about a behavior problem, the communication process instituted should be the same.

Put in writing your desire to put a good communication process in place between your boy's teacher and the school administration. Ask them to think about the best ways for you to remain in productive communication with you and suggest a few yourself. Tell them you are grateful for the consideration they are giving this matter and that you will be contacting them by phone to set up a brief meeting to put this mutually agreed upon plan into action. Send this letter to the principal and copy his teacher; keep a copy of your letter.

Call within seven to 10 days of when they would have received the letter and set up a time you can all meet. Don't give them the opportunity to come up with times you could never make it; indicate this matter is so important you will take vacation time if necessary to meet with them.

At your meeting, don't be critical about what's happened in the past. Tell them what you need from them in a kind manner and ask them what they need from you. View this as a win-win negotiation. When you've arrived at an agreed upon process of communication, suggest that the process be written up (volunteer to do it if they balk) so everyone has their blueprint to refer to. Express your appreciation for their concern about your son and your family and leave telling them you're looking forward to a fruitful relationship with them.

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Carleton Kendrick has been in private practice as a family therapist and has worked as a consultant for more than 20 years. He has conducted parenting seminars on topics ranging from how to discipline toddlers to how to stay connected with teenagers. Kendrick has appeared as an expert on national broadcast media such as CBS, Fox Television Network, Cable News Network, CNBC, PBS, and National Public Radio. In addition, he's been quoted in the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, USA Today, Reader's Digest, BusinessWeek, Good Housekeeping, Woman's Day, and many other publications.

Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of FamilyEducation.com should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.

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