Keeping Communication Open Technology Helps Parents Teachers Stay atop the Issues

Article excerpt

Byline: Karri E. Christiansen Daily Herald Correspondent

As summer winds down and children get ready for a new school year, many parents find they have to open themselves up to a new relationship.

Much like a married couple, teachers and parents must find ways to compromise and communicate to ensure the health of the child - in this case, the educational health of the child.

Trust is key in the relationship between parent and teacher, and that trust comes with communication, several DuPage County educators say.

Tracy McClure, who teaches fourth grade at Elsie Johnson School in Hanover Park, said parents must work with teachers, but also must be their children's advocates.

"It's important to communicate early with a teacher if you are uncomfortable or if your student is unhappy, rather than letting conflicts build up," said McClure, who has been a teacher for nine years.

"You are your child's advocate. If you need or want something for your child, it is your right and responsibility to pursue that."

Cathleen Hall, who teaches English at Lake Park High School in Roselle, agrees. She said a good way for parents to keep an eye on their kids and hold the line of communication open with the teacher is by attending conferences.

"I encourage parents to attend the parent-teacher conferences in the fall and in the spring, because it gives them a chance to get a first-hand look at the curriculum and some of the work the student has been working on," Hall said.

"It also gives parents a chance to ask questions that they may not have thought of in the past and gives them a chance to see what their student is having a problem with."

She said teachers should contact parents early to give them a progress report if it appears a student has problems.

"I like to head that off in the beginning, rather than waiting until parent-teacher conferences," Hall said.

Susan Galbraith, the mother of two students at Lowell Elementary School in Wheaton, said that parental involvement in the classroom is crucial in keeping open the lines of communication. …