10 Tips to Improve Teacher and Parent Communication
Children are eager learners, and their natural curiosity can help them succeed in school. To reach their full potential, children require support from their parents. Studies show a positive relationship between parental involvement and a child's academic success. While the evidence suggests that parents can make a big impact on their child's learning, 46% of parents still wish they could be doing more.
The best way for parents to support their child's education is to engage in a steady flow of communication with the school. Research shows that frequent teacher-parent contact has an immediate effect on the child's academic engagement. On average, a student is 40% more likely to complete their homework, 25% less likely to be distracted during a task and 15% more likely to participate in class.
When teachers and parents communicate regularly, it can also help teachers be more effective in their jobs. And when teachers thrive in the classroom, they feel encouraged and motivated to continue — which, in turn, benefits students and makes parents happy. It's a rewarding cycle that starts because parents and teachers choose to put time and effort into communicating.
Importance of Parent-Teacher Communication
A child thrives when their parents and teachers play an equal role in their education.
Parents are their children's first teachers. From the day a child is born, a parent's job is to show them how to navigate the world. When it's time for their little one to start school, their teacher becomes responsible for providing a valuable education. However, parents still play a vital part in supporting and encouraging their kid's academic success.
A parent knows their child better than anyone and can provide valuable insight to teachers who are just getting to know them. Parents can play a crucial role in helping teachers understand how a child thinks, what their strengths are and where they may encounter roadblocks.
The average child will spend 13.36% of their waking hours in school, which means that 86.64% of their time is spent elsewhere, mainly at home with their parents. When parents and teachers communicate, they can use this time to expand a child's learning and development beyond a typical six-hour school day.
Parents and teachers should foster an ongoing conversation from the first day of school. This communication should continue throughout the school year, with feedback flowing between both sides.
When parents and teachers communicate effectively, here are some of the results:
Consistent, open communication usually creates a high level of respect between a teacher and the parents. They appreciate each other's roles in a child's life and commit to collaborating to help them grow. When children see this level of trust between their parent and teacher, they can also recognize their teacher has their best interests in mind. In turn, students become more invested in their classroom goals and excited to share their successes with their teachers and parents.
Constant communication helps parents and teachers become more invested in the things that matter most to their children. Parents and teachers should celebrate students' successes in learning challenging material or overcoming obstacles. When adults encourage children, they can take more pride in their accomplishments. And, when children receive frequent praise at home and school, it reinforces their confidence in their abilities moving forward.
Efficiency in Problem Solving
Even with the most well-behaved children, a conflict is sure to arise at some point during the school year. When parents and teachers have already established a rapport with one another, it's easier to send an email or pick up the phone and quickly get to the bottom of the issue. Parents and teachers who are already in the habit of communicating know how to talk to each other about what's going on with the child. When problems arise, they can address the issue and find a solution.
10 Tips to Improve Parent-Teacher Communication
Though parent-teacher communication requires two willing parties — the teacher and at least one parent — the teacher often sets the tone. The beginning of the school year is critical to defining expectations and establishing communication patterns so parents become comfortable reaching out on various topics.
Parents sometimes get the false idea that their child's teacher is unwilling to interact with them, which is rarely the case. Educators can improve their communication with parents and encourage them to become more engaged in their child's education. Teachers and parents alike can benefit from these tips for how to improve parent-teacher communication.
1. Have a Plan
Communication between parents and teachers doesn't usually happen spontaneously. Starting from the first day of school, let parents know what your intentions are. Make them aware you would like to work with them to further their child's development. Making a good first impression helps you start the school year off on the right foot.
Communicating with every child's parents can seem overwhelming. Develop a communication plan that works best for your busy schedule. Perhaps this takes the form of a weekly email updating parents on their children's learning or a phone call to a few parents each week to update them on their child's progress. If you already have dates for parent-teacher conferences, make those known as well. Having a plan and presenting it to parents gives them expectations and opportunities to reciprocate with you.
2. Chat Regularly
One of the most important parent-teacher communication tips is to maintain frequent and consistent conversations. If you only reach out when you need something, it can create an impression that you aren't invested in the relationship. When a parent and teacher communicate regularly, it shows that both parties care, which helps build trust and understanding.
You can develop a consistent schedule to help parents stay updated with their child's academic performance. Parents feel more comfortable reaching out when you have already established consistent communication.
3. Manage Challenges Proactively
Establishing a steady stream of parent-teacher communication is extremely helpful when a student needs help. If you notice that a child has difficulty understanding something, you can reach out to the parents for help. Together, you can collaborate to find a solution to help the child succeed quickly and efficiently.
4. Invite Parents to Share
Parents take pride in talking about their children. Use this tendency to your advantage. In the right setting, such as a conference or after-school phone call, encourage them to tell you about their child. Listen to what they have to say and ask plenty of questions. This information can help you understand your students, especially if you've noticed any signs of social or emotional behavior that may be impacting their schoolwork.
This conversation can serve two purposes, to build a relationship with the parent and help you get to know a child and identify ways to reach them more effectively.
5. Lead With Good News
Even if you have challenging news to share, take a few minutes to start an email or conversation with something affirming or upbeat. This positivity helps parents feel encouraged and hopeful about tackling new challenges. Sharing something good about a student shows parents that you pay attention and care about their child's progress. Parents will see you as a member of their team and be more responsive to your advice.
6. Convey a Clear Message
Before meeting with parents, prepare a basic outline of what you are going to say. Time is limited, so you want to share the most important information.
Start the discussion with your main point, and try to keep the conversation on track. The experience will be more enjoyable for you and the parents if you can keep the dialog running smoothly.
7. Explain Ways to Get Involved
Often, parents are waiting for you to let them know where they can help. Provide different ways for parents to get involved that will work for various schedules. Parents who work during the school day may lack time to volunteer and still want to take an active role in their child's school.
8. Share Your Lesson Plans
Students study several different subjects throughout the school day. Parents often hear about the most exciting things while missing the full picture of what their child is learning.
Keep parents in the loop by sending home information on what the class is studying. Parents who feel involved will be more engaged, and they can help reinforce some of the concepts while their child is at home.
9. Show Your Appreciation
A simple thank you can show parents that you appreciate their time and effort. Recognize what they do to help your class and how it's impacting students. Though they often want to take an active role in their child's education, it can often be challenging for parents to fit these activities into their busy schedules.
Besides encouraging them and reinforcing their involvement, acknowledging their efforts shows that you have their child's best interest at heart. Parents are likely to show their appreciation for all that you do for their child in return.
10. Gather the Facts
Be proactive in learning about your students' family situations. Making assumptions about a child's life outside of school can hinder you from understanding the best way to support their development.
Get to know your students and their families by listening and asking questions when speaking with their parents. Do they come from a single-parent household? Have they gained a sibling recently? Are their parents fluent English speakers, or will they require a translator to communicate more effectively?
Stay updated on what's happening in your student's lives so that you can help them manage situations that can impact their ability to learn.
Parent-Teacher Conference Tips
Parent-teacher conferences provide the perfect venue for parents and teachers to discuss a child's education. Phone calls and emails can help you connect briefly throughout the week, but parent-teacher conferences allow both parties to sit down face to face and have a detailed conversation. In this setting, parents and teachers can learn a lot about each other and build a rapport that will benefit students throughout the school year.
Only a few conferences are scheduled throughout the year, so making the most of each meeting is important. You can use these parent-teacher tips for some ideas on how to plan and execute a successful parent-teacher conference.
Prepare for the Meeting
When you schedule the conference, establish the meeting's purpose. Is it to review a report card, discuss a child's academic progress or address behavioral development? Creating an agenda and knowing what to expect helps you and the parent feel more comfortable.
Preparing everything that you need ahead of time shows that you planned for and care about the meeting. Gather any reference materials, such as district policies, learning standards or recent assignments that might be relevant. Bring examples of how they're thriving, suggestions for continued improvement and questions to get to know the student's family better.
As a teacher, you have the privilege of telling parents about their child's success. However, it's also necessary to explain their struggles as well. Prepare a list of ways you intend to help their child and offer suggestions for how they can offer their support.
Create a Welcoming Environment
When possible, meet in the classroom so that parents can see student artwork and assignments around the room. Most parents love looking at the books their child is reading or the science projects they're working on. Allow them the freedom to explore and ask a few questions before diving into the topic at hand.
Set a Positive Tone
It's common for parents to feel nervous about what will come up during a parent-teacher conference. Lighten the mood by sharing some positive comments about their child at the beginning of the meeting.
Once you've highlighted some of the child's strengths, parents will be more receptive to hearing a few of their weaknesses as well. Remain optimistic while explaining any challenges their child is facing. The point of the meeting is to find ways to support the student and help them reach their full potential.
Establish a Plan of Action
Every child is different and requires a different level of support from their parents and teachers. Establish a plan of action to help the child achieve success.
Decide together what steps to take and who will be responsible for handling them. Parents can work with the school to organize any additional resources that their child might need.
Schedule a follow-up meeting to ensure the proper steps are being taken. Perhaps that's an email next week, a phone call to confirm or even another conference. Be transparent about what needs to happen and put a timeline on getting it done.
How Planners Can Help Improve Parent-Teacher Communication
Using a planner can help boost a child's academic performance. Students can write down their assignments to remember their homework and stay organized.
Planners are also an effective tool for improving daily communication between parents and teachers. Teachers can write assignments for each subject, deadlines or notes in planners and send them home for parents to see and respond to appropriately.
At Success by Design, our planners can improve parent-teacher communication to help your child or student reach their goals. Browse our wide selection of student planners to help your child get the support they need today!
- SBD, Inc.