To teach well, we must know children well, and parents can help us do that better than anyone. Parents can share knowledge of their child’s strengths and challenges, unique perspectives, and other invaluable insights.
Parents can also support their child’s learning at home. When we let parents know what’s being learned at school, they can talk about those things with their children and even plan activities that build on that learning. Family engagement helps children build academic and social skills and reinforces the importance of what they’re doing at school.
Strong, positive, school-home communication can take various forms, depending on what’s comfortable for you and appropriate for the parents in your community. Whichever strategies you choose, though, keep these key ideas in mind:
- Start early, preferably before school starts.
- Communicate frequently, on a regular schedule, and in a consistent format (website, email, phone calls, note in Friday folders, etc.).
- Keep everyday communications brief, focused, and positive.
- Invite responses. Try to make it a conversation, with both sides listening and talking.
- Empathize, reminding yourself that all parents are alike in one way: They all want what’s best for their child.
Two-way communication with parents builds a firm connection between home and school. Aim to set a positive tone for this communication from the start of the year and then maintain it. Parents will appreciate your efforts—and you and your students will benefit immensely.
More on Communicating with Parents!
- Watch “Working with Parents as a First-Year Teacher,” an excerpt from an interview with Mike Anderson and Margaret Berry Wilson.
- “The Responsive Classroom Approach: Information for Parents,” a downloadable, printable handout for you to share with your students’ families. In English and Spanish!
- “How to (Really) Listen to Parents,” by Babs Freeman-Loftis, an article from Educational Leadership.
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