Posted on: March 3, 2020
Teachers and school leaders tell us how crucial parent involvement is to student learning. However, it can be tricky to build a good relationship with students’ families. Here are some helpful hints.
- Start on a positive note. As the Whitakers say in Your First Year, try making positive phone calls home about your students. If we wait until parents need to call us about a bad situation, it won’t start us off on the right foot. (But sometimes we do get those bad calls--see Dealing with Difficult Parents for guidance on how to tackle tricky conversations.)
- Get buy-in on your curriculum. Don’t rely on your students to be communicating what’s happening inside your classroom, or parents may not get the full picture (“What did you learn in school today?” “Nothing…”). Getting Parents on Board provides sample letters you can send home to explain what you’re teaching and why. Check out a sample letter from the book.
- Host family nights where parents and their children can do exciting, hands-on learning activities together. Check out Family Reading Night, Family Math Night, and Family Science Night for specific ideas.
- Encourage literacy activities at home. Empowering Families has tips and strategies for helping parents promote reading beyond school doors.
- Let parents see that you want to get to know their children. For example, early in the year, you could send home a questionnaire asking parents to tell you about their children’s interests (in addition to having students do their own questionnaires). Here's a great example, found in Passionate Learners by Pernille Ripp.
- Respect cultural differences. Students’ families may have different cultural views of education or different communication styles. Our books Engaging the Families of ELLs and Multicultural Partnerships: Involve All Families will help you improve relationships.