Everyone; parent & schools alike talks about the importance of including families in students’ school lives, but most school, either through neglect or a sense of being overwhelmed—relegate it to only 2 major events
- Parent-Teacher Conferences (PTA)
- Parents’ evenings.
That is just not enough; all schools can improve on this vital relationship by strengthening its communication with parents.
There are ways to make parents feel included in their child’s school life, and it’s always good to start at the very beginning, at the start of the school year; this will go a long way toward building positive relationships which will have a positive knock on effect and will immensely benefit your students in particular and the school in general.
Building a positive relationship with families takes forethought and energy, but the payoff is enormous. It generates positive benefits for their own children and for the school environment at large. Parents who feel comfortable and included in their child’s education will be a bonus to everyone: you, the school, and, most important, the child.
Some ways to improve parental involvements:
Customer Service in Schools: Schools like any other business needs to adopt a friendly and supported customer service model, which is welcoming and relaxing. So how can school adopt and communicate a customer-friendly atmosphere? This we agree could be challenging since not every “customer” comes to the school, but it is not impossible. It starts, with the little things perhaps, in the car park, security guards/personnel’s, the front desk, and these progresses outward to those who do not come to the school.
Make the initial contact positive. Your first direct communication with a family should be 100% positive. It’s not advisable to have the 1st contact a negative one, don’t wait for a problem to arise before reaching out. First impression they say…….
Whether it’s to welcome parents to school, share a positive anecdote, or simply say it’s a pleasure to have their child in class, you want to start on an optimistic note. Especially with students who seem to be struggling academically or behaviorally, it’s crucial the first contact is encouraging as this will help build a trusting relationship with families, because your next conversation with the parents may not be as sunny, grab the opportunity as early as possible.
Keep parents updated on classroom life. School can be downright mysterious to parents because so many kids return home with few details. The simple question from parent to child “How was school today?” is often met with the most unrevealing answers, namely, “Okay”, or a list of playground activities. Encourage parents to ask open ended questions – send them a list of leading questions; some examples of questiona for parents to ask their children, which stimulates conversation
- What was the best part of the day?
- Who did you play with today?
- Leading on to the next question why did you play with the child (make a note of who your kids play with week on week) show me your friend and I will tell you who you are.
- What was the worst part of the day?
- And Why (helps catch bullying on time)
- Best subject for the day
- Celebrate that achievment
- Rank each subject 1best 5 not so good (see how many times a particular subject comes up and you know where your child is struggling)
- Awards – Talk about it no matter how small – a sticker or compliment
Information overload: The Information Age has brought with it a lot more options for communication or lack of communication amongst parent and child too. Teachers and schools now more than ever, have more avenues to communicate and connect with parents. Are you using the available platforms?
You can help parents by sharing details about classroom life that will jump-start end-of-day conversations. This information must be clear, concise and educating. Schools should have a parent communication strategy, is it weekly, monthly or half termly? What’s the content? – Fund raising only or other educational aspect
If you have a class blog or website, let parents know how to access it and encourage them to use it by creating a platform for them to interact. This will help them feel more involved and encourage them to ask direct questions about goings-on in the classroom.
Not too late to review, implement or enhance your parent involvement strategy this school year.
“In this complex world, it takes more than a good school to educate children. And it takes more than a good home. It takes these two major educational institutions working together”. Dorothy Rich