Teacher to Parent Communication: Start the Year Right!
You understand the importance of building relationships with the students in your classroom, but what about their families? Research shows strong home-school partnerships benefit teachers, children, and parents. Some of the benefits include:
- improved academic achievement
- positive attitude
- sense of community and belonging
- fewer behavioral issues
Before you begin building relationships, it is important to acknowledge that teacher to parent communication can have some challenges. You want to be prepared for these obstacles.
Challenge #1 Negative feelings about education. For some parents, schools were not a place where they felt accepted or successful. These past experiences have shaped their point of view.
Challenge #2 Parents are busy. Their work schedules or the needs of younger children may make it difficult for them to communicate with you during school hours.
Challenge #3 Families don’t feel qualified to help. This could be due to language barriers, lack of resources, or inexperience. They’re willing to be involved, but they don’t exactly know how to help.
⭐ Despite the challenges, I promise building relationships with families is worth it! Here are four of my favorite ways to lay the foundation for strong teacher to parent communication. These simple ideas will make a BIG difference in your classroom!
Back to School Parent Survey
Every child in your class is someone’s whole world! No one knows a child the way that their family does.
As a teacher, this back to school parent survey is an excellent resource to help you learn more about the children in your class. The questions were specifically designed to focus on student strengths so you can start the year with positive communication. The questions provide insight that is not usually learned through traditional school forms.
Families love completing this survey! It acknowledges that regardless of their educational background, they are still experts when it comes to their child. It allows them to share information about what makes their child unique and special. They appreciate that you are taking the time to learn about their child’s interests, motivations, and strengths.
Here are some ideas for delivering your survey:
- mail it to families with a welcome letter
- distribute it at back to school events, like Meet the Teacher
- send it home on the first day of school
- make extra copies for new students
Pencil Box Notes
I got the idea for Pencil Box Notes when I was getting my son’s supplies ready for kindergarten. I wanted to put a note inside his pencil box so I grabbed a small adhesive pocket and stuck it inside the lid. Whenever he opens his pencil box, he can peek at my message.
I realized that this would be an easy way for parents to feel included in the classroom even when they can’t be there. By asking parents to write a little note, you are showing them you value them. It only takes a few minutes, but it make a big impression on families and kids!
Just print the template and send it home to families. If you don’t want to cut out the squares, add sticky notes on top. Slide the note into an adhesive pouch on the inside of their pencil box lid. I’ve also included options for cubby notes if you don’t use pencil boxes.
You can have templates ready at your back to school events or send them home with your students. I also included an option for a second note so families know the lines of communication are always open!
Photos for Families
One of my favorite tips for teacher to parent communication is to send photos! Families love seeing their little ones working and playing at school. On the first day of school, I send each family at least one photo of their child. I used Class Dojo for sending pictures, but there are lots of other classroom apps out there. Kids love holding these fun photo signs, but any type of picture works.
When parents receive photos, they get to see their child having fun and learning in a positive environment. Opening photos is fun so families will be more likely to check your communication app in the future. You set a pattern for positive teacher to parent communication.
If you want to improve your teacher to parent communication, make it easy! This Fridge Friend reference provides families with easy to find contact information and log in information. It also includes literacy and math reference sheets so students have consistent supports at school and at home.
You can print the Fridge Friend and slide it into a page protector or laminate it before sending it home. Families can add it to their refrigerator and use it all year! To learn more about back to school resources for organization, click here.
Teacher to Parent Communication: Keep Going!
Your students and their families are lucky to be working with a teacher who understands the importance of family partnerships. By laying a strong foundation at the beginning of a new year, teacher to parent communication will be easier to maintain. When challenges occur within the classroom, having the support of families makes a big difference! I’d love to hear how you build relationships with parents.