, Newburyport, MA


April 2, 2014

The Daily Parent: How to build strong supports for your middle-schooler


Find out how the school operates when it comes to parent communication. Some schools use email widely, while others prefer that email only be used for minor issues or to set a time for a phone call or face-to-face meeting. Keep in mind that teachers often need more time to read and respond to emails than parents do because they are in front of children all day. Also, some teachers like using email, while others really do not. Parents will get the best result if they follow the school’s lead on when/how to use email and remain cognizant of the perils of email “tone.”

Avoid going “straight to the top” unless the issue involving your child merits that level of concern. If the issue can first be brought to a teacher, try that. If the teacher does not or cannot help you, then perhaps go to the vice principal, guidance counselor or department chairman. Go to the principal only after you have followed the proper “chain of command” so that you do not alienate the staff. In cases of emergency, or when other options have been exhausted, do go to the principal and voice your concerns, and expect to be heard.

A lot is being written these days about the erosion of respect — not just of kids for parents, but of parents for school personnel. There is no better way of sabotaging yourself and your child than treating teachers and administrators in a disrespectful manner. And you have every right to expect the same respect be shown to you as a parent!

Find out how you can support the school, within the limits of your available time. Join the PTA, serve on committees the principal sets up, help with fundraising, be a room parent or volunteer in the classroom. Parents who give of their time and resources to the school are better able to navigate the system when they need to enlist extra support for their child. This happens because involved parents are known by staff, are seen to be contributors to the partnership, and are networked within the school so they know to whom to go and how to be best-received.

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