We all know the feeling—the moment you open your email and see 20 new parent emails, waiting for replies. Parents have questions—it’s a part of the job. But sometimes, it can feel like the issues are never-ending. Thankfully, there are ways to communicate with parents efficiently and successfully.
The first thing you can do to improve communication is to welcome parents as your partners. You both care about their children’s education. You both want them to succeed. You’re on the same team. And the key to a good team is good communication. Here are five tips for communicating with parents so they feel more like they’re in the game rather than sitting on the sidelines.
1. Set clear communication expectations from the beginning
Parents need to know when they should expect to hear from you. So, establish a clear and consistent communication schedule from the start. Will you email them weekly, or will you call them once a month? Will you communicate via email, create a private Facebook group for all communication, or give them a call? Whatever method you choose, make sure it works for everyone and most importantly, stick to it!
Once you establish a consistent method of communication, parents will know when to expect to hear from you. They’ll feel informed and confident they’re not missing out on anything. And we all know that informed parents are the best kind of parents.
2. Keep the door open (but not wide open)
When parents send their children into your classroom, they are putting all their trust in you. Being available for your students’ parents is one of the most important things you can do to maintain that trust. However, it’s also easy to become too available. You need to prioritize your planning time for doing just that—planning.
The key to this balance is to disclose to parents the process they need to go through to meet with you. Inform parents that you are more than willing to meet with them in person or take their phone calls during specific hours and on specific days. You can utilize online scheduling platforms that allow parents to select their desired time from time slots you have designated based on your schedule. Check out Calendly, Doodle, or FreeBusy to start.
3. Involve them in their child’s learning
Continue to live the mantra that parents are your partners. You both have the same goal—to prepare students for the future. While the classroom is your arena, the home is the parents’. Lots of learning can happen in both. So go beyond homework and involve them in more aspects of their child’s learning.
Teaching how to count money this week? Provide parents with resources to reinforce money skills at home. Is photosynthesis on the agenda this week? Encourage parents to plant flowers or vegetables with their children and observe how sunlight affects growth.
4. Be transparent
Always be open with parents. You want them to trust you—being honest and transparent is the best way to establish that trust. Be clear about what’s happening in the classroom, especially in relation to anything affecting your students. The last thing you want to do is hide something from parents.
If you’re not sure how to communicate a specific issue, whether it’s regarding the classroom as a whole or a specific student, talk to a seasoned educator or your principal. Your school may have a protocol for handling specific issues, so be sure to adhere to that.
5. Answer every question (even if it’s hard)
Parents want what is best for their children. Which means parents ask a lot of questions regarding their children’s education. Instead of letting this bother you, remember that they ask questions because they care. Make sure to answer with kindness and grace as best as you can.
Next to your relationship with your students, your relationship with their parents is one of the most important. That’s why clear, consistent, and transparent communication is essential and directly affects your and your students’ success in the classroom.
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