7 Genius Ways to Engage a Less-Than-Communicative Teacher

Once your kid hits grade school, you'll quickly realize that all teachers have different styles. Some will be super into homework while others — even in the same grade — won't give any at all. Some will greet students with hugs and personalized presents while others will show they care in more subtle ways. And some teachers will inundate you with emails about classroom work and your child's individual development while with others, you'll hear crickets.

None of these methods are necessarily better or worse, but if you're a parent who likes and expects a high level of communication with your child's teacher — and instead find yourself paired with one who does little more than send a perfunctory weekly email — you might feel frustrated. After all, it's hard to help your kid succeed in the areas he's struggling in if you don't know what areas those are. Instead of running to the principal to complain about the radio silence, try the following methods to open the lines of communication in a more positive, constructive way.

  1. Get involved in your child's classroom. Showing your face will not only give you a chance to make a connection with the teacher, but you'll also get some serious intel on how the classroom actually works.
  2. Ask the teacher how they prefer to connect with parents. Is email the best way to reach out or do they prefer you send notes in with your child that they'll follow up on later? If you prefer to talk on the phone or in person, ask for times when that is most convenient for them. Don't expect to be able to engage in a serious conversation if you happen to be at school and run into your child's teacher.
  3. Take the initiative to open communication lines. Early on in the school year, be sure to provide information that will help the teacher get to know your child. Behavior and learning issues, allergies, or recent changes in family situations should all be relayed. Write notes and emails, and be sure to include the best phone number and email address for a response.
  4. Request a parent-teacher conference. If casual communication attempts aren't working, request a more formal sit-down with your child's teacher. Be sure to make the request in a positive, nonaccusatory manner.
  5. Keep communication unemotional and diplomatic. Avoid criticizing the teacher. Approach subjects in a nonthreatening way by saying, "Can we talk about . . . ?" or "I'm confused about . . ." Be brief and stick to information about school and your child.
  6. Reward the positive. When something good happens in your child's classroom or with their specific education, write a note or email to the teacher to express your appreciation. They'll definitely remember the gesture.
  7. Don't be afraid to reach out to other school personnel if needed. Talk to a school secretary, counselor, or principal if your repeated attempts aren't working. They should be able to intervene and help.