Best Ways to Build Relationships With Parents

Good teachers know that building strong relationships with parents is an essential step in helping all students to achieve. Building, developing and maintaining strong family to home school links helps students to achieve higher attainment, a more academically bright future and creates a safety net where all adults are poised to spot difficulties and work collaboratively to solve problems as a team. Research at Child Trends shows that when a student's parents or family are actively involved in their school life and speak regularly with their teachers they are more likely to finish high school.

Teachers can help to develop these relationships in the following ways:

Communication

Regular communication between the classroom and the home is the basis for a strong and productive relationship between educators and parents.

Send home weekly newsletters, notes, e-mails and make time to phone home. If necessary, arrange for your words to be translated and try not to use educational jargon that may be unfamiliar to some parents.

Welcome, Welcome

Adults have all sorts of past experiences and connotations of those in authority and may view you with fear or distrust, that's why your first meeting is so vital. Try to be personable, friendly and approachable.

Perhaps arrange an informal get together such as a coffee morning, where parents can all get together and meet you for the first time. Give a short speech outlining your hopes for the coming year and how parents can help you to reach students and ensure they all achieve their goals.

Reach Out

The families that don't answer the phone when you call and don't attend parent teacher meetings often need your help the most. Don't give up on these families, keep trying to make contact in positive and upbeat ways and remember that they may have valid reasons for being difficult to contact, such as demanding jobs or language difficulties.

Invite

Invite parents into the classroom to see what you are doing each day in class. Some parents can feel that school life is a mystery to them and doesn’t include them at all. Challenge this notion by constantly including them in classroom activities and events.

You can allow parents to come and observe an ordinary class or invite them along on field trips or to special concerts and shows.

If such opportunities exist at your school for parents to volunteer weekly, ask parents to sign up for one to one reading, assisting with arts and crafts or doing a shift in the school library, try to encourage interested parties to get involved.

Praise

Some teachers don't make an effort to contact parents until there is a problem to convey and this can be extremely frustrating and disappointing to parents, they may come to see you as a negative authority figure and even avoid any contact with you at all.

Counteract this potential pitfall by making a point to contact parents with positive praise, especially in the first few weeks of a new school year.

Make a point to record a positive sentence or two in a child's agenda or reading record, or make a quick call home to recall a good choice a student made or an area they are excelling at.

There is always something positive and uplifting that teachers can share and it can make all the difference to a parent.

No Judgement

Families are all different, try very hard not to make assumptions about how members of the family are related or jump to conclusions about surnames or titles. If you are unsure of a family's makeup, ask the previous year's teacher, the school office or administration for advice. Never make judgments about a family, after all, the only thing that truly makes a family is love.

Thanks

Always make a point of thanking the parents of the children in your class, without their input you wouldn't have any students to teach at all!

But in addition, also thank them for helping their child with their homework, reading with them, attending school and class events and being a partner in learning.

The greatest indicator of a child’s future achievements are the people that surround them, do your part to ensure that every student has their own dedicated cheerleaders in their corner, spelling out S-U-C-C-E-S-S!

Fiona Tapp, is a Freelance Writer, Educator, and Mom.  An Expert in the field of Pedagogy, a teacher of 13 years and Master’s Degree holder in Education. Take a look at her website or blog to connect.