Research shows that children do better in school when teachers talk often with parents and parents become involved in the school. There are number of ways that parents and teachers can communicate with each other, rather than relying on the scheduled parent-teacher meetings. Close communications between parents and teachers can help the student.
Parents who participate in school activities and events will have added opportunities to communicate with teachers. Becoming involved with parent-teacher organizations (PTO, PTA, and Booster Clubs) gives the teacher and parent the possibility to interact outside the classroom. In addition, the parent also will have input into decisions that may affect their child’s education.
Teachers usually welcome meeting their students’ parents early in the school year. Making an effort to do this will help the teacher better understand the parent, the child, and how they will support the education of this child? Teachers appreciate knowing that parents are concerned and interested in their child’s progress. And, this helps open the lines of communication.
Phone calls and visits to the classroom by parents are also good ways to cooperate between teachers and parents and keep parents informed about their child’s progress.
Parent-teacher meetings are often scheduled at the time of the first report card for the school year. For parents and teachers, this is a chance to talk one-on-one about the student. The parent-teacher meeting is a good opportunity to launch a partnership between parent and teacher that will function during the school year.
It is clear that parents who attend Open School days are concerned with their child’s well being and education. They want to know what is going on in the classroom and how what happens here will ultimately benefit their child. There are two ways you can ensure this participation;
Modeling the Classroom Experience: Get approval from your head teacher to arrange have parents come in half an hour before open school day actually begins. Take that time to model a mini lesson and have parents participate in a small group assignment. Showing parents an example of an actual classroom lesson and assignment gives them a better understanding of how their child will be developed both academically and socially through the year.
Giving an Overview of Your Curriculum: As an additional presentation, use a 5 to 10 minute walk through of a typical day in your classroom. This presentation includes details about our reading program, expectations for students, how you organize your room, and the type of work students do in class. Including photos of real students and graphics that illustrate your classroom set up make it easier for parents to visualize a typical day. In instances where you don’t have enough time for a mini lesson, use just this presentation to give parents a sense of what happens in the classroom.
Parent Communication Tips for Teachers
Building a good rapport with parents is vital to students’ success. Beyond the initial meeting, it is found essential to keep an open dialogue with parents. The everyday demands of teaching may make it hard to have a traditional one-on-one dialogue with parents frequently, but it is found that you can maintain good communication by carefully tracking performances that you want to review with parents and using technology wherever you can.
I believe wholeheartedly that a child’s academic success is greatly enhanced when teachers and parents are partners in the process. When you need information pertaining to a child or a child is experiencing a problem, you contact the parents or guardians because they are your number one resource. Throughout the school year you use a variety of communication methods to build and sustain solid relationships with parents.
1. Using a Parent Teacher Contact Log
In this age of ever increasing accountability it is vital to keep a record of all contact you have with home. A great way to do this is to keep a notebook record of all contact you have with parents and guardians. In that notebook keep a record of the following:
• Who you talked to.
• Time and Date
• The reason you or they called.
This simple task transfers the accountability on to the parent and off of you.
2. Parent Involvement-“Come To School with Me”
With today’s busy schedules it is sometimes difficult to get parent’s involved in your program. Teachers are always trying to come up with new and innovative ideas to entice parents into the classroom. Parents are wondering is my child “just playing” all day, are they learning anything, and what is an appropriate curriculum for pre-school children?
It is important to educate your parents on their child’s daily routine. And you know what, sometimes parents “learn by doing” as well as children. So why not let your parents come to school with their child? Of course with a large number of parents working this is not always possible. The next time you do a “parent day”, provide opportunities for your parents to share their child’s day.
Our teachers plan for this day by altering their daily routine by making an eight hour day fit into two hours. After the parents have signed in, their child takes them to their class. Quiet activities are provided until the program is ready to begin. Parents are encouraged to follow the activities with the children.
Teachers go through their daily routine beginning with Circle Time. Everyone gets involved in singing, dancing, etc. Parents are asked to plan for the next activity. They must choose a learning center to go to. With the help of their child they are guided to the learning center of their choice. Parents get involved in a variety of activities such as painting, block building, putting puzzles together, reading books, or discovering how magnets work. As the activities are taking place the teacher is interacting with both parent and child and asking open ended questions. A warning is given when it is time to clean up. Once this is completed the parents and children are asked to share their experiences with the others in the group.
Parents come away very surprised to learn how many different learning experiences have taken place by playing and the thinking process that goes into answering an open ended question. The day comes to a close with parents, children, and the teacher sharing a nutritious snack.
Allowing parents to “come to school” with their child is a very enjoyable and informative parent activity. It has given teachers the opportunity to educate parents on how children learn through play and socialization.
3. The Power of a letter
“Keep parents informed about your classroom. Every Monday send home a letter informing parents of the plan for the week. This will increase parent and child communication at home. This will let parents feel that they are a part of their child’s education. This can be a short informational outline of the week. Sometimes this can get parents to come and share something that will add to your curriculum.”
4. Communication about Homework
“Homework can be a difficult thing to obtain from some children in your class. Get the parents involved by sending a homework assignment sheet to be signed each day. Let the child sign the sheet also. The accountability is now on parents and child. At the end of each week, send a certificate of congratulations to parents and child for all homework completed for the week.” You can also avail parents and students with your phone numbers so that they can consult you during homework time. This can work for some parents.
5. Use of Questionnaires
“Send a questionnaire home to parents or guardians asking what they can do to contribute to your classroom. Is someone artistic? Does someone have time to give to help in the classroom for an hour? Who wants to accompany the class on a field trip? Someone might have time to sit and cut out letters for the classroom. Parents may come as guest speakers on topics you will address. You can find talent among the parents and they feel needed and part of their child’s class.”
6. Stimulate community concern about education
In that particular village where you reside, there are some experienced parents who can generate constructive ideas that can help all the other parents in the community to support education. So you can help organize educational meetings for the entire village. Recruit a few friends of learning and set days for meetings. Get helped by community leaders to mobilize parents. Be creative and involve activities that bring children on board during these meetings, they may have something to share with their parents. You may not earn any physical payment from this action, but pride will follow, and improved performance of your students is more rewarding.”
7. Use Registration Time to Build a Foundation
Begin the school year by meeting some of your parents during registration, before school begins. This is the first time you can meet your students and their parents/guardians. Since first impressions are lasting impressions, make sure your classroom is warm and welcoming.
In addition to the paperwork and fees related to registering, parents receive their child’s schedule and visit their classes. This is your chance to meet the parents and get their addresses and phone numbers. To the students, issue the agenda books for upper primary and secondary school.
8. Create Detailed Student Information Sheets
On the first day of class, send home student information sheets that ask for basic information: name of students and parents, address, telephone numbers, email addresses if applicable. Include in details about the child’s health conditions. A copy of the student’s schedule is on the front of this form also, so if you ever need to locate that student during the school day, you can immediately see where he or she is and whom you need to contact. You will also learn how to handle different students based on their health conditions.
On the back of the information sheet is a contact log where you keep a running list of dates on which you’ve contacted parents or vice versa. You should always document contact with parents by writing date, time, and short summary of what was discussed. This documentation is very important to have, because when you have over 90 students it is easy to forget what was discussed with one parent versus another. It may sound time consuming to document each contact, but the information will prove to be extremely helpful at a parent meeting. Have all of your student information sheets alphabetized in a three ring binder separated by periods, and it is located in the file cabinet.
9. Send Out Parent Surveys
Two to three weeks after school starts, send a parent survey home. The survey asks questions such as:
-What was your child like as a baby?
-What are your child’s strengths and weaknesses?
-What does your child do in his spare time?
This information helps you get to know each student as a person and learner. It’s also useful when planning lessons. Even though parents are just as busy as teachers, they eagerly take the time to write as much information about their child as they can. One parent wrote a note on her child’s survey saying, “This is wonderful that you want to learn more about my child.” Seeking the advice of parents shows respect and helps gain and sustain their support. The students also get a kick out of reading what their parents wrote about them.
10. Contact Them with Good News Regularly
Make commendation calls regularly — and every year set a goal to do them more often. So much time is devoted to students who are not doing what they are supposed to than students who perform well do not receive adequate praise. Parents are so pleased and sometimes shocked when you call and say, “It is such a pleasure to have Brian in my classroom.” Attempt to make these calls weekly during a planning period or after school; three to five per week; You will find that scheduling the calls in your planner, means you are more likely to do them — and more likely to make a difference in parent’s and student’s day.
11. Establish an Open Door Policy.
Many parents are sometimes hesitant to volunteer in their child’s classrooms. In order to stay in touch with parents, look for other ways to get them to stop by. For example, welcome them to come in and observe you teaching. Another technique you can use the Top performers’ Party. Every term you can chose to award your top readers with a tea party or cup-cake party and extend an invitation to parents, acknowledging that they have helped with their child’s reading success.
12. Parent Read Aloud
Invite parents in to read or to tell a story to the class. The children love hearing parents read to them, and if story time is right after lunch, parents can come in to eat with their child and read a story on the same day.
13. Weekly Folders
Communicate with parents each week in writing by sending home graded work and comments on class work, behavior, and any other concerns in a folder with a form that reserves space for parents to write back. Folders are signed and returned on Mondays. Keep the comment sheets as documentation of parent/teacher communication.
14. Parent Conferences:
For any serious issues concerning a student in the student’s performance, behavior, discipline or health, call a parent for a conference. The following tips are important for a great parent conference;
• Be prepared. Pull the child’s file and any relevant documents ahead of time and familiarize yourself with the information.
• Sit next to the parent at a table instead of sitting behind your desk.
• Begin the conference by saying something positive about the student.
• Avoid any educational jargon that might intimidate the parent.
• Ask the parent for his/her opinion, suggestions, and concerns and listen carefully.
• Send a thank you note home with the student the following week.
If you are meeting with a parent who might become difficult, ask an administrator, guidance counselor, or colleague to sit in at the conference.