I learned about parent-teacher relationships early in my child’s preschools career. I thought I had a decent level of communication with the teacher, but was shocked to find that we were seriously mis-communicating over the subject of my child’s abilities. I knew that to ensure that my child had a good relationship with his teachers that I also had to have a good relationship with my child’s teacher. So, I invited her to my home for breakfast one Saturday morning so that she would know where and how we lived, and for her to see my son in his own environment. Beside the fact that she got to see what he was really capable of when he was comfortable and felt safe, she also got to know us and our communication was much easier from that point on.
In some districts where principals require teachers to visit students’ homes, the teacher gains a realistic picture of the student in his or her home life. While I realize that there will be parents who feel that their home life is none of the teachers business, or fear judgment, but a simple home visit will eliminate a multitude of sins. In my experience, here are some misconceptions that teachers had about me that could have easily been cleared up with a home visit.
Teachers assumed that the children’s father and I were not married or living together. I have no idea what gave them that impression, but teachers were always amazed to see us together and would congratulate him for taking time with his kids.
Teachers assumed we were poor and therefore underprivileged. In one incident where I refused to pay $20.00 for a field day t-shirt for one day that children were going to write all over, the teacher assumed that I simply did not have the resources to pay for the shirt. My child came home with the shirt anyway that another parent had ‘donated’ to my child. She did not understand that my refusal was a matter of principal. I would have preferred that he wear an old shirt of the required color. It was my prerogative to make that call.
Teachers assumed that I was uneducated. While not all teachers made this assumption, as I am obviously and outwardly intelligent, it seems that in some cases a classroom visit did not get the point across to a teacher or two that I was smart enough to help my child with certain tasks. I was talked down to in such a way that I could only smile and walk away. A home visit where we could have a decent, unrushed conversation would have let the teacher know whom she was dealing with.
Other reasons teachers should visit parents’ homes and parents should invite them in are:
The teacher should know if the family is struggling so they can be more sensitive toward the child.
The teacher should know if the family has high standards and therefore high expectations for the child.
The teacher should get to see the child in a relaxed environment.
The teacher should become familiar with the different cultures of students, which are not always apparent in the classroom.