It may be challenging for a teacher to find the time to make parent phone calls after a long day of work with grading and lesson planning to do. There is often not enough time in the day to write notes home and update charts with individualized grades for each child. Communicating with parents is an important component of the learning experience. When multiple people are involved with the student’s learning, the student is likely to be more successful. That starts with trust and open lines of communication. Communication is the foundation of parent and teacher relationships. Teachers have to find efficient and creative ways to communicate with parents. Parent involvement connects parents to classroom teachers across all grades and ultimately supports learning for all children. To do this effectively, teachers can use different tools that help to communicate or create structures for communication.
→ See how we support Parent Communication in Schools
Why Parent-Teacher Communication is so Important
Teacher-parent communication is critical for student academic education and how they are socialized in the school. Parental involvement allows teachers and parents to communicate regularly and develops trust between them. This two-way communication allows parents to be involved in school learning while teachers can be kept abreast of students outside the classroom. Parent involvement is a key element to advancing school culture. There are different ways to communicate, such as class websites, leveraging technology for text messages, and telephone calls. Parent involvement helps with the school culture and climate and is a direct line of support for students. When the parents and teachers develop a relationship in and outside of the classroom, that helps to communicate effectively throughout the school year. Parents can feel engaged, and teachers can connect about the student experience consistently. Additionally, open communication lines allow for teachers to share good and constructive reports with families. They will have access to all of the ways their students are engaging in school.
Parent-Teacher Communication Strategies
There are effective ways parent-teacher communication can work. There are many benefits for students, parents, and teachers, which will ultimately impact the school environment. Education is about creating opportunities for learning by communicating with each person involved in supporting the students. Forming strong parent partnerships is good for additional cooperation and collaboration with classroom work. Students feel supported when parents and teachers are involved, and this encourages positive school behavior. Students are less likely to engage in negative behaviors when they experience parent-teacher support. This intentional support for students also has an impact on academic achievement.
The BIG question is how? How can parents and teachers develop these strong relationships with open lines of communication? How can they exchange information with parents about their student’s progress?
Verbal and Written Communication
Effective communication is the most important point between parent and teacher relationships. The classroom teacher can really leverage parental involvement to connect parents to their child’s education. Involved parents who are often excited about helping with homework or open houses benefit from parent-teacher communication. There are some strategies to connect teachers and parents by effectively communicating verbally and through writing. Below are some ways parents and students can begin to build their relationships with the teacher.
- Annual open houses—This annual school event allows for parents to meet teachers and learn about classroom structures, activities like homework, and behavior expectations. During this time, parents can learn more about their classroom environment and prepare for the year. At this event, teachers communicate with parents about the strategies that will be used with their children.
- Parent-teacher conferences—These meetings between guardians and teachers are a great way to report student progress and allow time to ask questions. Parent-teacher conferences can be set up during different times of the year or centered around grade level milestones like report cards or testing. If a student or parent has additional questions about their education, the parent-teacher conference allows them to build a plan for the student.
- Parent-teacher association group—These groups connect parents and children to the school community. They serve as support for school leadership, and they facilitate activities that center around student’s best interests.
Pro tip: Create parent-teacher groups that welcome all families and are thoughtful and inclusive about ways to keep families engaged.
- Phone calls and emails—Phone calls and emails are a quick and convenient way to connect parents and teachers. Calls and emails can be scheduled for extended conversation or can be good for a quick connection.
Pro tip: Don’t always make calls or send emails for negative behaviors. Reward students by complimenting their positive behaviors or contributions to the class.
- Text messaging—Text messaging does vary by the parent and teacher’s interests and willingness to communicate in this way. Each person would have to agree to connect in this manner. This is an even quicker two-way communication effort that gives teachers more chances to engage parents.
Communication tools and apps like Kickboard offer a few ways for teachers to communicate student progress with parents. Digital parent-teacher communication uses technology in education spaces to share information. Digitally, more families can engage in two-way communication with school leadership, teachers, and each other.
- Kickboard Family Portal—This portal provides parents with student reports in real-time. Teachers can share student information via the computer or on mobile devices and exchange messages.
- GroupMe app—GroupMe is an app that you can download to different devices. Teachers can send group messages or exchanges with multiple parents at a time. Similarly, parents can also connect with each other. They can listen and share their experiences but also advocate for each other in a group space.
- Social media classroom page—Having a social media page will allow teachers to post announcements and content for parents to access on their own. Teachers can present important documents or materials and communicate with families.
- Student behavior reports—This digital document can be used to update parents on student behaviors and progress. It is consistent with the PBIS incentives for students. Each school staff person with access to the reports can add details about the student throughout the day. Parents then know what is going on with their child or children and can monitor behavior and progress often.
Read more: Effective PBIS Incentives for Students and Teachers
- Student agendas—Student agendas can be digital tools that are emailed to parents weekly. This information is critical for parents and can be viewed consistently via email or on any device. This agenda also provides structure to student learning. Elementary school teachers use agendas or lists so that students are clear about what to expect for the day. This helps manage behavior and classroom expectations.
- Classroom website—Classroom websites can connect students and families with information. Social media websites, student agendas, and other key information can be shared and visible to all. Teachers can communicate to individuals on classroom progress, projects, and school information. Some websites also include a parent-teacher communication portal for direct communication access.
- Recording a podcast—This audio platform will inform parents about grades, homework, and class projects and will benefit families who want to learn from each other. Parents will not have to wait for their kids to share their lessons, but they can hear about it on the podcast. This can also include school announcements and updates on student work.
When planning actual communication strategies or ways to increase family involvement in elementary school programs, you can develop parent partnerships to support classroom work. This partnership might include volunteer hours, support through supplies, or even contributing to class learning by participating in a lesson. Most parents are very interested in their child’s education, and regular communication between the educators and parents is a great benefit.
If a student is having a challenge in school, teachers and parents can work together because they have developed a relationship that allows them to collaborate on interventions. Educators can set an example of communication strategies that will positively impact student learning, class behavior, and academic achievement (including homework and lessons) through effective communication. School leaders can also champion this communication work by also engaging with families. School leaders who are thoughtful about the school culture and climate can leverage some of these practices to engage families.
→ Check out this Kickboard Blog about ways to improve school culture
Here at Kickboard, we have seen many schools improve parent-teacher relationships by using our family portal, PBIS mobile app, web platform, and professional development services to support their initiatives. Kickboard helps teachers who seek to involve parents and the community. They do this work by finding innovative ways to support positive school culture by identifying behavior trends and implementing a plan to advance student learning. Kickboard offers a Family Portal for parents and students, but also provides resources on the impact of parent-teacher engagement to support systems and practices that support culture in schools.