It has been said that communication is the cornerstone of good parent-school relationships. This statement rings even more true as we move into an era where schools are becoming more accountable for student success. One of the best ways to measure success is through collaborative relationships with parents, teachers, and school administrators.
When one looks at successful schools, what they find is a good foundation of students that have developed a strong relationship with their parent(s). This close bond ensures open lines of communication and a willingness for parents to work with schools in order to provide the best possible education for their children.
Why Parent-School Communication Is Most Important
Parents are the first and most important teachers of their children. They hold in their hands not only the future of education, but also the future of our society. Communication with the school is one way to help parents continue this vital work.
A report from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reveals that students who are involved in ongoing communication with their parents have higher grade point averages and rates of college attendance.
Here are five suggestions for fostering parent-school relationships:
- Communication is not the same as visitation.
It may sound like a simple distinction, but it’s true: communication is not the same as visitation. Some educators feel that they must visit with parents to communicate effectively with them. While this may be appropriate in some situations, there are other effective ways to stay in contact with families.
For example, school newsletters are particularly valuable because they can be sent home with each child and provide a written record of what parents should be aware of from week to week. Formal parent-teacher conferences are another other way to stay in touch that allows you to focus on an area of school life relevant to that particular family.
- Build relationships before you need them.
One of the most powerful things you can do is to build a relationship with parents before they have an immediate need. Working on a school project together, attending a PTA meeting together or sharing information about your families’ interests are all ways for you to learn more about each other and to help foster future parent-school communication. It may sound like a no-brainer, but it’s surprising how often this step is missed.
- When in doubt, call.
When you are unsure of whether or not to contact a parent, that is the perfect time to do so! This provides parents with the confidence that their child’s school genuinely cares about them and has their child’s best interests at heart. It also gives you another chance to communicate effectively with a parent and show that you are an educator who keeps him or her informed of your child’s progress.
- Communicate the words “I don’t know” with confidence.
A common pitfall for educators is feeling as though they have to have all of the answers all of the time. However, it’s okay—and actually better for your image as an educator—to say “I don’t know” when you genuinely don’t. This allows parents to trust you more because they know that you are honest with them. When parents truly believe that their child is getting a good education, they will be more involved at your school and will have higher expectations of their child’s success.
- Answer emails in a timely manner.
One of the most powerful forms of communication is e-mail, since it cuts across all age groups and requires very little effort on the part of those who receive it. However, it is important to answer emails as quickly as possible so that parents have the confidence in you and your school.
One of the main reasons for lack of parent involvement at schools is a feeling on the part of parents that they are not valued or heard by educators, especially if they wait several days before receiving an answer to their messages.
You might be thinking, “These are great tips to improve communication, and to be able to communicate more clearly, but how do I increase the frequency of parent-school interactions in my school?”
There are a number of school management systems that offer communication features for teachers and parents to seamlessly communicate with each other. Some key features that should be included in a school management system’s communications module include:
- Student Reports
- School Calendar
There are many ways to improve communication with parents, but the school management system you choose should make it easy for you. Whether it be via text, email or just a quick announcement, these features will allow you to update parents quickly and easily.
This information is courtesy of SchoolCues, a school administrative software solution with an integrated web and mobile interface, www.schoolcues.com.