Many times, teachers want parents to be involved and want to communicate with them. But then get stuck. What do needs to be said? When do is there time to reach out to parents?
Understanding and Acting on The Importance of Parent Communication
We always hear how important parent communication is, and it is true. Most parents want to be involved in their child’s education. They want to know what is happening in the classroom, how their child is progressing in the curriculum and with the standards, how their child is getting along with others in the class, and what they can do at home to help them.
Setting The Tone
Contacting parents before school starts or just as school is starting sets the tone for positive communication and establishes the importance of communication. Relationships are built through communication.
When the initial communication between teachers and parents is positive, parents tend to be supportive and have a positive outlook. Later during the year, if there is a problem with a student’s behavior or an academic concern, parents who had an initial positive experience are more likely to continue to be supportive.
It may seem daunting if you have 25 families to reach out to, but this initial contact may be brief. It may be a phone call, an email, or even a postcard in the mail to introduce yourself to the new families. Students also benefit from this early communication as it sends a message the teacher is excited to have them in their class.
Benefits to Parents
There are benefits to parents who have frequent feedback and communication from the classroom teacher. Parents gain a better understanding of the school curriculum and communicate better with their children. When there is a partnership between parents and the school, parents feel they are valuable to their children’s education. In turn, this can set higher expectations for their child.
Benefits to Teachers
Teachers gain more insight about their students when communicating with families. Parents know their child best and can share vital information. This allows the teacher to meet the student’s needs academically, socially, and emotionally in the classroom.
Benefits to the Students
Studies show there are many benefits to students when there is communication between parents and teachers. Some of the benefits include increased motivation for learning, regular attendance, improved behavior, and an overall positive attitude towards school and learning.
So what now?
- Teachers have to find ways to make communication with parents effective. Find out what types of communication families prefer. Do they prefer paper, phone calls, or electronic communication?
- Inform parents of how you want them to communicate: phone, email, or notes. Let them know times of availability for calls or to return emails
- Make sure to communicate everything, not just the “bad”. A quick phone call to parents when their child did something fantastic, had a gain in learning, or met an IEP goal is a phone call that will be well received by parents.
Teachers can become so overwhelmed with the amount of work to be done day in and day out. Scheduling communication may be helpful. Set your calendar with which families are due to hear from you. Keep in mind how each family prefers to communicate. Remembering the benefits to all involved should help keep communication as a priority.