Today I am sharing my tips for creating positive parent-teacher relationships in the beginning of the school year and throughout the year.
In my 10 years of teaching, I have taught many children and have developed many relationships with parents. I continue to connect with many families today that I have known for many years. I can honestly say that taking the time and making the effort to connect with families pays off in many ways.
I hope today to share some honest advice and tips from someone who has been there as a teacher and a parent. As a primary teacher, I understand that the children I teach are still young. Their parents need and deserve to have an understanding of what goes on in their child’s day.
My biggest piece of advice would be to be kind and welcoming on day 1. This is what will make a lasting impact. Make parents feel like you want to get to know them as well as their children. Attempt to build a partnership with parents by openly communicating the good and the bad. Develop trust with parents by being available and accessible when they need to contact and connect with you. Strive to form connections with parents by showing them that you care about their child and their child’s success.
COMMUNICATE WITH PARENTS
Find a way that suits you and works with your parent group to communicate regularly. Be diligent!
I make sure to say “hello” and introduce myself to as many parents as possible on the first day of school. Letting your parents know that you are a person, and a kind one too, can go a long way. Make a good first impression by inviting parents into the room to look around. Smile and have a few light hearted jokes or comments to ease the nerves that they (the parents) are also probably feeling.
After a positive first impression, it will be up to you to continue to reach out to chat and keep parents in the loop. Parents deserve to know what happens in the classroom and how their child is doing regularly. Find a way to communicate that suits who you are and get that started. Keep it up, even when you are exhausted and stressed. Remember parents are at home wondering how things are going. If you take the initiative and are proactive, parents will come around less because they feel well informed.
*Use a daily planner for important notes, events, and anything else you want them to know about the week.
*Have a monthly newsletter that shares learning goals, classroom events, and student successes.
*Send home a class handbook at the beginning of the year with important information about how you run your program, what the expectations are for students, and how families can help.
*Create an email list to send out important time sensitive info.
*Make phone calls home to share the good days, as well as the bad.
*Respond to calls, emails, and notes at the first opportunity.
*Let parents know the best way to contact and communicate with you. Whether it is email, in person, or on the phone. I suggest giving the best 2 options for those parents that cannot visit in person due to work or other reasons.
*Send home mail in an organized fashion to ensure parents receive important info.
*Post important notices in the window or on the door for parents to see.
*Meet with parents more than the few mandatory times each year.
*Ask your parents questions and be open to feedback. Consider sending a letter home asking for this information.
BE AVAILABLE AND ACCESSIBLE
Have an open door policy and allow parents to be a part of your classroom!
This idea is closely related to communicating with parents. It is important to make yourself available to parents to connect with you regularly. Each day in the morning I open my window blinds so that my students and their parents can see into the classroom. I welcome my parents to come in with their child to the class at the bell until their child is settled in their seat. After school, I stand at the door and chat with parents. I have built the strongest relationships from doing this.
I reach out the parents to get them involved. I welcome parents who want to volunteer and often I will ask for parent helpers during special classroom events or to help with a special project. I make myself available by email, phone, and in person. I let my parents know they can contact me at any time to set up a meeting. I give them my availability since I am a parent too and cannot be available, in person, in the evening. I have an open door policy and if there is something of extreme importance, they can reach me to chat anytime. I check my emails before class starts everyday because often parents will contact me to let me know there was an issue the day before or if a child is away for some reason.
*Have time before or after school when you are available to talk. Leave your door open!
*Stand at the door with a smile when the bell rings in the morning and after class is dismissed.
*Give parents your business card or a magnet with your information that they can post on the fridge.
*Be open and available to set-up meetings when parents have concerns or want to check in on their child’s progress.
*If possible, have a few ways for parents to contact you (i.e. phone number and email).
*Invite parents into the class to share in a celebration or to share learning.
*Have parent volunteers.
SHOW THAT YOU CARE
Take the time to build connections with students, showcase student work and achievement, and share successes big and small!
Each and every child that you teach is important. Whether they give you the run for your money or if they are the most well behaved, each one of them deserves to be celebrated. Parents appreciate that this goes on everyday, but they are extra pleased when they are invited to witness it as well. My classroom has student work everywhere. I post it on bulletin boards, in hallways, from clotheslines, and in windows. My blinds are always open and parents can see the work that their children complete everyday. Parents are welcome to come in to the classroom often where they can see the work and their child’s personal spaces up-close. When an extra amount of effort has gone into a special project, it gets sent home with a positive note. This “wow” work is saved and put into portfolios that become special keepsakes for students and families. Read more about student portfolios and student-led conferences HERE.
But more importantly than what you show is how you make children feel. You are a teacher and you became one because you care about children. I show my students I care everyday by getting to know who they are, caring about their well being, and making sure they are safe and their needs are met. I take care of them as I would want someone to take care of my own children. The way you make them feel at school is going to be reflected at home.
*Show parents that you care about teaching their children by creating a classroom that is organized and set-up with children in mind.
*Create special places for your students to call their own. Give them a desk or table spot, locker or cubby, and supplies with their name on it.
*Post student work on bulletin boards and invite parents to come in to the class to see.
*Create a classroom management system that keeps parents involved.
*Send completed work samples home to share with parents.
*Send positive notes home about successes small and big.
*Show your students you care about them by being open, kind, and available. This will translate home to parents.
*Make conversation with parents and remember important events in their lives.
*Have fun with your students and families. Go on field trips together, plan a mother’s day tea, or invite parents to watch your students perform at an assembly.
One of my favourite ways to connect with my families is to send home a weekly planner sheet. I created a planner sheet instead of having my students pay of planners. On the planner sheet, I include the weekly words, important memos for each day, and an area for an extra message. My students and I both write the information in. I photocopy our weekly poem on the back side for families to practice as well. I make sure it goes home on Monday.
This system works really well for me and I receive a lot of positive feedback from families. If you would like to grab your own FREE EDITABLE copy click HERE or the image below!
I hope that these tips and suggestions help you cultivate lasting and healthy relationships with parents that benefit everyone.
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