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July 9, 2012

Parent-Teacher Communication

Written By: Lorraine Vasquez
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Parent-Teacher Communication Strategies
To be successful teachers must have good communication skills, not only with their co-workers, administration, and students but with parents as well. One of the first things I learned when I became a teacher is the importance of Parent – Teacher Communication. I have found that when parents and teachers have good communication throughout the year the students are usually more successful.

First Impressions Can Make or Break Parent-Teacher Communication

I believe wholeheartedly that first impressions stick with a person. In my school district we have a “Meet the Teacher” evening the week before school starts where students and parents can come in and see their classroom, meet their teacher, and drop off supplies. This is my opportunity to make that everlasting good first impression. When students and parents walk in my room they see a warm and inviting classroom (I always have a theme in my room to make it feel even more special and united, this year it is Peace, Love, and 4th Grade Frogs). I make sure to greet every single child and their parents too. Acknowledging the parents and letting them know I look forward to working hand and hand to help their child be successful is my first step in building that relationship.

On the first or second day of school I send home a parent questionnaire that I call “Parents as Partners” which asks questions about their child’s strengths and needs, what concerns they may have, what their child’s hobbies are and what a good teacher for their child is. During the very first week of school, no matter how busy I may be, I make it a point to call each and every parent/guardian to let them know how happy I am to have their child in my classroom. I also ask the parents if they have any questions and remind them that they shouldn’t ever hesitate to contact me.

By the end of the first week of school I have had at least three positive interactions with parents which will set a good tone right away. We must remember that parents are allies and all they want is what is best for their child. They want to know you will do what is best for their child and be an advocate for them while they are at school.

A couple of weeks into the school year we have our Parent Orientation Night. I usually have some chocolate or cookies set out for the parents. As parents walk in the room, I hand them a small magnet with my contact information and invite them to sit down. I start out by telling them once again how much I love being an educator and enjoy having their child in my class. I let them know that I want to hear from them throughout the year and I am providing them with a magnet that has all my contact info to keep on their refrigerator. I tell the parents a little about myself personally and then engage them in a conversation about my rules and expectations. Instead of just telling the parents about the rules and expectations I make them a part of it and provide them with a brochure/packet to take home.

Periodically throughout the year I send home positive notes, emails, and even make phone calls that make parents smile. This not only keeps the lines of communication open but lets the parents know you care by taking the time out of your busy schedule for their child.

There will be times when we may need to contact a parent when we have to discuss a behavior issue or perhaps an academic struggle. When we do, it is important to be calm and start out with something positive. Don’t sugarcoat things but be honest and factual. After you inform the parent, make sure you let them talk while you actively listen. Do not get defensive and but offer solutions. By building a strong relationship from the beginning of the year, you are able sustain good parent-teacher communication throughout even when you may not have something positive to say.

Parent-Teacher Communication Strategies - ReallyGoodTeachers.com

About the Author

Lorraine Vasquez is a third grade teacher in San Antonio, Texas. She has a passion for teaching and loves being an educator. Follow her blog, Fabulous 3rd Grade Froggies, for great teaching ideas, tips, and more. You can also find Fabulous 3rd Grade Froggies on Facebook and on Twitter.

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11 Comments.
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  • Brigitte Perik
    July 9, 2012

    Great ideas for connecting with parents! definitely going to share this! Something all great teachers need. Thankyou!

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  • Linda
    July 9, 2012

    Great communication ideas! Thanks for reminding me that I need to update my magnet this year.
    Here’s another tip. If a student is keeping you up at night, give the parents a call the next morning. I’ve made this my policy during the last few years and I have always found touching base with the parents over what has kept me up at night usually has a good effect. I let parents know on curriculum night that this is my policy. I tell them, “I’m glad to be your child’s teacher, but you will always be the parent. I let my own children interrupt my sleep, but when my students do, I discuss what is troubling me with you.” Over the years, I have had some good discussions with parents and have been able to use a team approach to solve a variety of problems. I also enjoy a good night’s sleep, most nights.

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  • Lisa Carvajal
    July 9, 2012

    Wow Lorraine this article is really good!! I always knew you were an organized teacher! This article has some really great info! You should look into doing an inservice at New Teacher Orientation!! AWESOME!!- Lisa

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  • Marie Madden
    July 9, 2012

    womderful ideas.. Makes me feel good that I do many of the same things. I also communicate every week via a newsletter that lets parents know what is happening, when tests are, etc.

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  • Lynda Morgart
    July 9, 2012

    What a great post! I have to agree with you that the first impression is very important and always keeping the lines of communication makes for a strong relationship with parents.
    Curls and a Smile

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  • Jana Wilson (@cimeronejana)
    July 9, 2012

    I love the idea of having a magnet with all the teacher’s contact information on it to give to parents.

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  • Julie P.
    July 9, 2012

    Great idea! I send home a parent handbook that has a sheet asking parents to tell me about their child. I get valuable info on that. I wish my district did a parent night later in the year!

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  • Jennifer Finn
    July 9, 2012

    I envy the time you take with parents. I wish I had time to do all that. I know you have good ideas, but you did not address non-English speaking parents. Also, I’m curious about your attendance numbers at Back-to-School night.

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  • Stephanie
    July 9, 2012

    Fabulous ideas Lorraine! I also am a firm believer in the role of positive communication. Great ideas for keeping the lines open between the parents and ourselves.

    ~Stephanie

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  • Shelley Gray
    July 9, 2012

    Great article, Lorraine! I absolutely agree that parents must be seen as allies, and those relationships with parents will improve the student’s education. You have some great ideas for communication!

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  • Summyr Siegel
    July 9, 2012

    Thank you for sharing your communication ideas! I LOVE the idea to give the parents a magnet with your contact info. Genius! I’ll have to do that this year 😉

    Summyr Siegel

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