How to Effectively Communicate with Parents/Guardians
Communicating with parents/guardians is one of the biggest responsibilities that a teacher has in their line of work. While you have the opportunity to interact and affect the lives of the children you teach, they ultimately are being raised by parents/guardians who have a strong interest in their well being and education. If you fail to keep a parent/guardian apprised of their child’s progress in school, you are missing a wonderful opportunity to bridge communication that is essential in a child’s life. Parents/guardians and teachers should work together to make sure children are learning effectively and gaining the most from their education.
One way to be certain that you are communicating with parents/guardians effectively is to utilize forms and notes that you send home periodically to let parents/guardians know how their child is doing in class. Examples of forms and notes might include:
- Notification of failed assignments
- Quick notes to say a child did something good today
- Parent communication log that is filled out each time you communicate with a student’s parent/guardian
- Classroom newsletter
- Volunteer letter asking for parents to come and help in the classroom
Make the most of parent-teacher conferences. Of course you will have information to share with parents/guardians at these conferences, but also realize that parents will have questions they want to ask as well. Give them time to express their thoughts to you, and not make them feel rushed because there is an appointment behind them. Parents/guardians feel secure with teachers when they feel like their concerns are important to the teacher. If there is a situation that simply cannot fit into a parent-teacher conference timeframe, then make the effort to meet with them at a better time when you can give them your full attention.
Use technology to your advantage. It literally takes a minute or less to send an e-mail to a parent/guardian telling them how well their child did in class or on a particular project. Send home an e-mail address request form at the beginning of the school year, and parents/guardians who opt to have messages sent to them will appreciate that you actually follow through on doing this at least monthly, if not more often.
If your school has a website, be sure to include a page on your classroom. Update the site weekly and let parents/guardians know how to find your class. This is a great way to communicate with parents, and not have to speak to them directly all the time. They will stay abreast of new things happening in their child’s class, and you will have the satisfaction that you created such a wonderful resource for parents/guardians.
Sometimes parents/guardians are uneasy about contacting a teacher because they feel like they are too busy to deal with interpersonal conversations with them. You need to take the first step in breaking down that wall. Perhaps you can have a parent/guardian visitation day whereas they are welcome to come and sit in on the class for a day. Let parents/guardians see their child’s classroom and experience first-hand what is being taught to them.
The keys to communicating effectively with parents/guardians are to:
- Do it often. Don’t let months go by without hearing from you as to what is going on in the classroom and how their child is performing.
- Be honest. Call them at the first sign their child is having behavioral or learning difficulties in the classroom.
- Stay organized. Remember that when you are talking to a parent/guardian about their child, they are really only interested in their child, not the whole class. Parents/guardians might become impatient if they have to wait for you to dig up notes on their child under a stack of other papers. Give the impression that you are interested in their child.