Let’s talk about the Must Dos for Parent Communication. Any veteran teacher will tell you that one of the greatest challenges to teaching is the parents. Do you have a parent horror story you relive from time to time that you wish never happened? I know I do and I have never met a fellow teacher who hasn’t! Parents can bring out the good, the bad, and even the ugly in many of us.
Must Do #1- Start the Year With Initial Contact
At the start of every year, it is a great idea to begin the line of communication with the student and their parents. Some teachers send postcards or letters to their upcoming students. We do not get our rosters early enough for that, but I do take a few minutes to call each family on my roster from the school phone line. This is why this is our first of the 7 must dos for parent communication.
In the initial contact with each family, I like to welcome them to my class and tell them a little bit about myself, if they don’t already know who I am. I also welcome them to our meet-the-teacher or round-up gathering. My goal is to make this new family know that I am excited about them.
Must Do #2- First Meeting with New Families
At the first chance I get to meet my new families, I make sure to introduce myself to the child and I go down their level to make eye contact with them and communicate with them. They are my priority and I am taking this time to learn about them, say their name a million times, and try to remember their face. Then, I introduce myself to the child’s family. I am sure to make eye contact, answer all their questions, and let them know how passionate I am about teaching and how excited I am for the upcoming school year.
If parents miss this meeting? I call them again. 🙂 If I still can’t make contact with them, I email them. I know this may seem like a lot, but Kindergarten is a big deal and I want to make sure I do everything to start the year off amazingly.
Must Do #3- Ensure Students’ Safety
This may be THE most important must-do for parent communication because it has to do with safety. Now, I make sure to take all the right steps to ensure their child’s safety. I check for food allergies and transportation information. To a parent who is leaving their pride and joy in your hands, their child’s safety is very important. Parents worry about this… and not just a little bit.
Must Do #4- First Day of School
First, I make sure to welcome my new families on the first day of school. Then, I give them grace while they are taking pictures and make time for their tearful moments. Next, I comfort when I can. Finally, I love to offer to take a family picture to make sure I can include moms and dads in this moment. This is a big step for these families and I want to help them cherish the moment.
Next, I always send home a first-day note with each student. I want them to feel the initial warmth from my classroom and I want their family to know that I know how BIG their first day of school can be.
Must Do #5- Positive Communication
Within the first few days of school, I make sure to make a positive phone call home or personalized email to each and every family. I highlight the strengths of each child. It is critical that you get to know your students and it is critical that parents know you are getting to know their children.
Must Do #6- Make More Deposits Than Withdrawals
My biggest takeaway from all my years of teaching when it comes to parent communication is this… make sure that you are filling the buckets of your students AND their parents. This means that parents hear lots of positive words, pictures, and communication. If and when you have to talk to parents about a situation, issue, or such, you have built a solid bridge for them.
When a situation arises that is less than desirable, try to follow it up with more communication with the parents. For example, if a child is having a tough time being a good friend and I bring this to a parent’s attention, I follow up with the family about progress in this area.
Must Do #7- Always Kindness
Finally, there are times when things happen that are less than ideal. Even if you are the scapegoat, the one at fault, or stuck in the middle, things can get less than smooth. My best advice for parent communication remains to always be kind. You can not control others’ actions but you can control how you react. I have found that I never regret a situation in which I showed kindness. Even if it isn’t shown back, I always show kindness.