Parents: how to build better parent/school relations

Parents, here’s a simple exercise that will help you engage productively and appropriately with your student’s high school, forge healthy relationships with faculty, and even give you a nice mood lift.

1. Identify five positive things you’ve witnessed, experienced, or appreciated in the last three months at your student’s school.

Maybe the chemistry teacher spent a lot of extra time with your son helping him improve his grade. Maybe the school gave the girls’ cross country team a lot of well-deserved recognition on campus when they won the league title. Maybe you’re always impressed when you attend the jazz band concerts, or the counselor was the sounding board your student couldn’t find in someone else, or the steps the school is taking to curtail drinking during formal dances makes you feel more secure sending your kids out on those nights.

Just five positive things, big or small, that resonated with you.

2. Thank the person or persons responsible.

Send an email. Write a note. Or say thank you in person. The delivery method doesn’t matter nearly as much as the message does.

You might also have a list of concerns, negative experiences, or constructive criticisms. But that’s not what this exercise is about.

Teachers, administrators, parent leaders—they all appreciate the occasional thank you and pat on the back, just like the rest of us. And in many schools, those expressions don’t arrive nearly as often as the recipients deserve.

So find five reasons to express thanks. And if you can make it a regular habit, imagine how much more receptive those parties will be in the future if you do have a concern you’d like addressed.