Parental communication with teachers and managing expectations


Advances in technology have made it both easier and harder to communicate effectively with parents and teachers. In a busy world it seems that the easiest thing to do is for a teacher to send an email to a parent and expect that all information would be understood. All too often the exact opposite happens, where information and situations get twisted, and there is a break in the line of communication. Sometimes this happens on the parents end and other times, on the teachers end. How ever the breakdown in communication happens, we need tools to successfully combat and manage these expectations.          

Effectively Marrying these topics can help eliminate the break in communication between parents and teachers.


Studies show that both parents and teachers need to be engaged with both the student and each other to benefit the student.         


There are several reasons why communication breaks down between parents and teachers.

  • Uninvolved Parenting - A style of parenting characterized by lack of demand, and low responsiveness with little to no communication.
  • Over-involved parenting- This aspect is characterized by the parent that is around too much and doesn't allow enough space for the child to flourish. Thus creating a constant dependency. 
  • Unclear expectations on both Parent's and Teacher's end- Parents sometimes expect that teachers will do ALL of the work. Teachers set a bar for students that is only attainable through parental cooperation. Every parent handles their responsibility differently. It is also at times unclear what the teachers expect from the parents. Some teachers expect that a parent is helping  a child with schoolwork and reading. Others expect that a parent help with school related activities. When this doesn't happen a parent can be seen as uncooperative or not participating. 
  • High expectations for the student- These high expectations are set by both the parents and the teachers, mostly with regard to the end result.... the final grade.



Personal testimony from several parent interviewees revealed that they feel they don't receive enough communication from the teachers and administration. When asked how often do you hear from a students teacher, the response was, " Only when money is due, or when my son is in the principals office." The personal relationship between this interviewee and the woman teaching her son was almost non- existent. This is evident in the public school system. 


Through another series of questions with a separate interviewee, sending her son to private school eliminated some of these issues but not all. I found that communication and participation is a staple in the school her son attends. Contact, other that an automated message is made at least once a week. This is initiated by the parent or the teacher. The end result is the child knows where they stand and what is expected of them, through proper communication.

(This was a small sample and is in no way representative of all schooling situations.)
















"How often you need to communicate with the teacher will depend on the severity of the problem. For more serious problems, you may need to have daily contact with the teacher. Formal systems like a school-home note program or a journal are easy to use and require little teacher time. In these systems, teachers complete a note or journal entry providing feedback to parents on specific problem behaviors at the end of the day and send it home to the parent. If designed right, such systems are easy to use and require little teacher time. For less severe problems, weekly feedback would be enough. The important thing is to communicate regularly."   

Another major communication problem reported by both parents and teachers is not doing what was agreed upon. If you told your child’s teacher you would communicate in a certain way or do a specific school or homework related task, do your best to follow through with what you said you would do. For example, if you agreed that you would check your child’s homework and sign off on the assignment, be sure to do this consistently. Be sure to let the teacher know if you are unable to do what was agreed upon.




Top 5 Takeaways to create ideal Parent - Teacher relationship 

1. Build a relationship with your child's teacher. More than just a visit during parent teacher conference day.

2. Talk about schoolwork, goals, and problem areas with your children. If a problem is there, take it to the teacher. Common examples

include bullying, not understanding schoolwork, and behavioral problems.

3. Find out what your child's teacher needs you to do in order to help your child excel. It is not ALL the teacher's job to make your

child succeed.

4. If there is a break in communication with the teacher, re-engage! Don't let this hinder your child's education. It can and will,

if you let it.

5. Be patient with your child's teacher because you aren't the only parent she has to be responsive to. Most teachers have 15-25 students

they are responsible for. Every day is a new challenge. 



 Software Resources for Parents and Teachers: 

Progress Book: Allows parents access to a students progress. This resource is area specific,

so check your school for specific login info.

EdLine: Allows mobile access to parents for updates in students progress





See Also Parental Engagement for teachers

Parental engagement for families






Interviewees Shayla Brown, Kim Whickum, Diane Robinson















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