Communicating with Parents and Caregivers
Parents and/or caregivers are a major stakeholder in their child’s education and will therefore have regular contact with their child’s classroom teacher. As stated in the Professional Teaching Standards (NSW Teachers Institute 2005), teachers must communicate and engage with parents in a professional manner regarding the child’s education.
Caitlin, as you have identified some issues with parents, you need to work on developing a positive and professional relationship with the parents, by keeping them informed about your teaching and the child’s progress at school.
Communication and interactions between parents and teachers must be in a positive and professional manner, so that the parent feels more comfortable discussing issues in subsequent communications (Gestwicki 2007).
Listed below are some ideas that may help you open channels to communication with the parents and/or caregivers.
- At the beginning of term, invite the parents and/or caregivers in for an information night to talk to them about the teaching and learning that will be happening throughout the term, and outline your classroom management plan for the class.
- Gather information about families by conducting surveys so you know who to contact and if they require any additional assistance (eg. Non-English Speaking families).
- As you may not be available each afternoon, organise an afternoon mid term so the parents and/or caregivers can meet with you to discuss any issues or concerns.
- Contact the parents and/or caregivers when positive things occur in the classroom with their child, that way you are not only contacting them when there is an issue.
- Invite families to volunteer in the classroom during learning activities.
- Identify the parents and/or caregivers expertise and ask them to assist in the classroom to access their professional knowledge or skills.
- Encourage parents and/or caregivers to participate in their children’s learning at home by assisting with homework and guided reading (McLeod and Reynolds 2007).
- Organise parent-teacher nights to talk to parents and/or caregivers about their child’s report and progress at school.
Use a variety of media to keep parents informed with their child’s progress through:
- Information sessions
- Phone calls
- Emails and letters
- Student diaries (Warren 2009).
It is important to remember, that when conducting parent-teacher communication, do not make parents feel blamed for their child’s issues (Roffey 2002). The teacher should try to discuss issues in a way that does not make the parents feel as though the issue is their fault.
Gestwicki, C 2007, ‘Parent-teacher conferences’, in Home, School and Community Relations, 6th edn, Thomson Delmar Learning, Clifton Park, NY, pp317- 356.
Roffey, S 2002, ‘Flagging into partnership: a framework for collaboration’, in School Behaviour and Families: Frameworks for Working Together, David Fulton, London, pp59-75.