Communicating With Parents
Communicating With Parents | Helpful Strategies
One of the most effective ways to foster a good relationship with parents is through open and positive communication. Creating a good teacher-parent relationship early on in the year is very important.
The home-school connection is one of the most powerful tools in helping a child reach their full potential academically, socially and emotionally. After all, we all have the same goal: doing what is best for children.
The Art of Communicating With Parents
There is an art to communicating with parents, and many teachers actually find this part of their jobs to be difficult or intimidating. Start by asking a few questions and writing honest answers.
- What is my past experience with parents?
- Am I afraid of what parents say about my teaching style?
- Am I open and approachable?
- Am I welcoming no matter if I like the parent or not?
- Do I let my personal feelings get in the way of my communication with parents?
- What non-verbal communication do I use?
- Am I aware of whose parent is speaking to me?
- Do I allow for parent participation in the learning space?
- Are parents happy with my approach to discipline?
- Am I open when sharing the curriculum, class rules, and homework expectations?
- Do I listen and really hear what a parent is saying?
- Do I need to make a record of some conversations if important information is given?
- What are my communication tools?
Keep it Honest but Positive
Parents want honest information from their child’s teachers. If a child is struggling with a concept or subject, be honest with the parent so that you can work together to find a solution. You can still talk with a parent in a positive manner even if you are discussing a difficult topic. When communicating with parents make it clear that you are invested in their child, and that you will do what it take to help their child with their struggle.
Although most communications are pleasant, they can sometimes become heated. Teachers need to know that they do not have to tolerate abusive parents. If a conversation becomes hostile, you should always put distance or a barrier between you and an angry parent by standing behind your desk and asking them to lower their voice. Leave the situation and get help if you are fearful. Zero tolerance of abuse should be made clear to an angry parent.
Have communication tools.
- A newsletter at the end of the week is an excellent way of communicating with parents. Let them know you will be doing this or they will find it weeks later when they are cleaning out the learner’s bag.
- Homework books are another good communication tool. Have an area for you, the learner and the parent to write any comments. This does not have to be about homework it can be a general comment area.
- Have Parent interviews or conferences as often as necessary. Encourage the parent to speak to you if there is a concern or they will speak to the other parents and you will be the last to hear their concerns.
- Special meetings to impart information about the curriculum to be taught, out of school or centre visits.
Learning Communication Strategies While Preparing for Your Teaching Career
Communication strategies are critical to all relationships; however, most people don’t learn how to communicate properly.
It is essential that while in college or university, you take a communications course to help you learn how to communicate better with all people in your life and work. This will make your transition as a new teacher a simpler path for you.
Bear in mind that this will help you dramatically, although you may not always get the outcome you desire.
Other Tips for a Positive Outcome When Communicating With Parents
Know your children and their parents. This takes a bit of time but will always be something positive about you that a parent or carer remembers.
When communicating with parents be open, welcoming and cheerful. You may raise your voice at a learner or their parent to get their attention but never use disparaging remarks as this undermines their self esteem and in their eyes, your worth.
If you don’t particularly like a parent or their child, acknowledge it to yourself and be aware of how you speak with them. We cannot like everyone but we are expected to be mindful of our own communication skills and respectful of all parents, carers, and learners. Expect the same in return though.
Make records of conversations if there are important points you need to remember, report, or check on at a later date.
As teachers and carers of learners we are practicing all the time the rules of communicating with parents and society as a whole. This makes us a very important role model in the lives of learners.