While schooling plays a critically important part, all of the learning that a child does in life contributes to their overall education. Parents as children’s first teachers, have enormous impact on their learning and insight into areas of interest, learning styles, cultural influence that may effect how children learn and their ways of viewing and understanding the learning taking place.
The relationship between parents and teachers, effects children’s attitudes and performance. A child who can see that their parent and teacher are working together, will be more successful than a child who concludes that their parent does not like or respect their teacher. Research suggests, when parents and teachers have similar expectations student’s attitudes and performance in school will improve.
Active involvement of parents in their school’s instructional program encourages better work ethic, and development of improved attitudes towards school and school work for both parents and students alike. Schools that encourage parent participation are more effective, than those in which parents are not actively involved.
The most successful school programs provide a variety of ways for parents to participate in their children’s education. In both high and low resource communities, research suggests that the quality of schools greatly improves with active parent participation.
Therefore it is vitally important for teachers to foster relationships with parents based on mutual respect, understanding and a shared commitment to the well being of the child; which will encourage parent participation both at home and within the school and provide students with the best education possible.
Here are some practical ideas to help you establish and maintain positive parent teacher relationships in your classroom:
Beginning of the School Year:
– Greet parents warmly, but focus attention to the students
– Have windows opened
– Ensure that the room looks organised and bright (this doesn’t necessarily mean adding a heap of colour, simply adding a plant or flowers and ensuring the lights are on gives the feeling of calm and organisation)
– Photograph each child during the first week and display on the door or in the room.
– Distribute a letter of introduction (make sure this is approved by your Principal first). The letter may include: an introduction, welcoming statement, positive statement about the school and the year ahead, anticipation of working with the class, the current main unit topic (the what and the why), mention of upcoming events such as parents nights, invitation to arrange a time to meet with you if parents have issues they wish to address, conclude with a positive.
– Distribute a ‘Getting to Know You’ form (template available in my Free Resources Library)
Parent Teacher Evening
(Keep discussion on general issues. Invite parents who wish to discuss specifics pertaining to their child to make an appointment to speak with you)
– Display some of the student’s work eg wall displays, books
– Set up chairs in a semi circle
– Set up OHP for visual focus to main points
– Have coffee/tea/juice available
– Start and finish on time
– Welcome parents
– Stress the importance of the parent teacher relationship to enhance learning for the student (feel free to use what I have written above to support your explanation)
– Very briefly overview curriculum, eg the strand of English and the main genres which will be covered. Do similar for the other Learning Areas but keep it brief!
– Discuss ways parents can assist in their child’s learning
– Involve parents in decision making eg homework issues
– Ask for helpers
– Negotiate/state procedures for interviews, letters, birthdays, etc.
Ongoing Communication of Information
Beginning and on completion of term’s work or units of work.
– Letters giving general information
– Class term newsletter
– Work samples that the students share at home
– Consider open days, open nights which provide opportunity for students to share their learning.
– Allow sufficient time for each interview
– Space allocated times for ‘breathing space’
– Consider doing a few each day (interviews can be mentally tiring)
– Keep to the scheduled times
– Avoid having parents wait in the dark or in the cold
– Use the student’s folio to support the report
– Keep a focus on ‘has achieved’ and ‘working toward’
– Offer suggestions on how the student’s learning can be supported
Formal Written Report
– Focus on positive statements
– Check accuracy of spelling, grammar
End of Year
– Card/letter of thanks and Christmas greetings from you to the parents
– Coffee afternoon/party organised by the students to say thank you to the class helpers.
Have you got any other suggestions for maintaining positive relationships with parents? Please share them below in the comments! I would love to hear from you! Happy teaching 🙂