Building Positive Parent Relationships

As teachers we know that there's nothing better than positive relationships with parents. That's because when parents and teachers are on the same team children are more successful in school.  Let's face it, parents are our No. 1 resource; who would know better why Suzy was feeling tired or sad today, and what you might do about it? And who would be happier to hear that Suzy’s hard work paid off on the quiz she just aced?

It’s not always easy to establish and maintain a good rapport with parents, but it’s worth it. Trust me: Happy parents make for happy teachers!

Here are a few tried and true ways to build and maintain solid relationships with parents:

Starting on Day 1, make your classroom a pleasant, inviting place where students and parents alike feel welcome. Offer to help new students with lockers and finding their way around. Such actions can go a long way toward earning a parent’s trust and appreciation. Later, on Curriculum Night, you can go one better and provide snacks and beverages to parents, along with key information about yourself, your classroom routines and expectations.

Also, I feel that I should point out here that at the beginning of each school year, I put an actual welcome mat outside of my classroom door.  It's a very physical reminder for all who enter my classroom whether it be a student, a colleague, a staff member, or a parent, that ALL are welcome.  That welcome mat, both figuratively and literally has served me well in building relationships!

Communication is king. Parents like to be informed of what’s going on in their child’s classroom. You can achieve that with a formal printed newsletter, or a simple biweekly email update. I've found that a streamlined process for classroom news works best.  I like to share a few of the top highlights for the week or even month to keep parents in the loop. If you maintain a classroom webpage, be sure to keep it updated with curriculum matters, upcoming quiz and project due dates, and links to handy resources. Bonus points if you include photos of your students in action! 

For matters concerning a single student, reach out with a phone call or e-mail – and keep trying until you’ve reached his or her parent. It’s much better to keep parents in the loop than to surprise them on a report card. Don’t forget to share the good news, too!  Check out this post all about the Power of a Positive Phone Call.

During the first few weeks of school, I always collect routine – but also personal – information from students and parents. In addition to e-mail addresses and cell phone numbers, I ask parents to fill out a sheet informing me of their children’s learning style, what friends they work best with, when their birthdays are, and how they spend their free time. I keep the sheets in a binder, ready to pull out during conferences or team meetings. Parents feel reassured that someone cared enough to ask what Billy’s favorite subject is in school. And you’ll have a better understanding of your students.

Another way that I like to learn about my students from their parents is with the "In a million words or less" assignment.  

Have you ever done this?  It's simple.  All you do is task parents to tell you about their child in 1,000,000 words or less.  I usually do this at the beginning of the year, but I bet you could send it home with your students right now if you wanted to.  Just be prepared to shed a few tears and feel a lot closer to your students and their families when the responses start rolling in.  I treasure the stories that parents share about their kids and I read them throughout the school year.  It's also an instant way to connect with parents and learn new things about students.  If you'd like to give it a try, you can find an assignment sheet right HERE for FREE.

There's no doubt about it, parents are a super important resource for us teachers!  I've found that making an effort to connect with parents has done wonders for my students and classroom.  Plus, as a parent myself (of two boys), I've found that I teach with a whole new perspective and appreciation for parents.  Wanna know how being a parent has changed me as a teacher?  Check out this post!

Thanks for stopping by,

Mary Beth

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