7 Effective Strategies For Improving Communication With Parents
Dec 14, 2009 Teaching 5078 Views
Communication between people who have a task to achieve is crucial. And what more important job is there than educating a child? It's a monumental undertaking, but fortunately, the efforts of a few improve exponentially when everyone is working together. Plain and simple: students will be much better scholars if parents and teachers communicate effectively.
1. It might sound like an obvious concept, but it's important to make parents feel welcome to speak with you about their child at any time. Whether they call, send a note or drop in after class, make sure parents know you appreciate their involvement and willingness to communicate. If they know you will actively listen when they have a concern, they will be much more open to hearing what you have to say when their child brings home low grades or demonstrates bad behavior. And in the meantime, they just might offer some helpful information or insight into their child that will help you immensely in class.
2. Promote opportunities for communication with parents outside of class. Many parents will attend student conferences, but few will commit to going on field trips or attending class parties. Encourage parents to attend a few "fun" activities during the year. It will make everyone more at ease as you get better acquainted. Get to know parents as people. Talk to them about their life, job or upbringing. Nothing will be more helpful to a child's education than promoting communication between teachers and parents and becoming allies in the process.
3. When discussing a student's school performance with a parent, include not only things their child should work on, but also what their child is mastering or improving in. Parents need to feel that teachers are rooting for their child's success, and you should make sure they know you are.
4. Foster the idea that parents are children's first teachers by making sure they know what their child is learning at school. Helping parents find opportunities to "teach" at home will reinforce what you are teaching their kids at school. Together, parents and teachers can communicate the same concepts and ideas so children will have even more opportunities to learn. Being a team will promote good communication.
5. Let parents know right away if their child is having difficulty with a particular unit, concept or subject. The sooner parents know, the sooner they can work on those concepts with their child at home. And that may be all it takes to get their child over the hump and on to learning the next concept. This is also effective for behavioral problems. Send a brief note or make a quick call to parents when a child's behavior is not what it should be. Nothing is worse to a parent than finding out weeks later that their child has been causing problems in the classroom.
6. Offer to communicate with parents in whatever genre they prefer, whether it's newsletters, handouts, phone calls, emails or face-to-face conferences. Give parents a choice about how they hear from you, how often you communicate and what time or day is best for them. Schedule a regular output of notes, newsletters and phone calls to ensure parents receive all the information they need.
7. If you don't feel your school's mode of communication is effective, talk with your principal about updating the system. If you aren't happy with the current system, chances are other teachers aren't either. Communicating your concerns will benefit not only your own class, but the entire school and parents, as well.