Tips from Teachers for Building Strong Parent Relationships
Weeks before the first call home or chaperone recruitment for a field trip, teachers have the opportunity to establish a strong relationship with students' parents and guardians. A working parent-teacher relationship is essential to ensure students thrive. This partnership can affect students’ motivation for learning, student behavior, and regular attendance. Teachers benefit from this relationship by learning more about students' needs and gaining trust from parents to encourage involvement in field trips and special projects. In the long-run, relationships between teachers and parents can be just as important as student-teacher relationship.
In practice, navigating these relationships can be difficult. We asked teachers across the country how they establish meaningful parent relationships, and we found some tips – including setting expectations, establishing lines of communication, utilizing technology, and hosting open houses – that can improve your chances of forming a strong relationship early in the year.
I have implemented a Course Information Contract that we (teacher, parent and student) sign that demonstrates my expectations for all of us for the year. It also includes the means of contact, access to my grade book, access to my website, and an open-door policy to enable student self-advocacy.
I send a welcoming letter home with my students and invite parents to share contact information with me and the school. I also mention how to contact me and the school and mention expectations and homework requirements. I made a treat for the students who bring the signed letter back from their parents.
Establishing Lines of Communication
It is important to have conversations with parents as early as possible. One strategy that I try to employ is to have a positive interaction with a parent before any that are negative.
I make it a point, at the beginning of the school year to send a "Welcome to Seventh Grade" e-mail to parents. I keep it brief, but it's a way to show them I care about their children. I also attach my course syllabus to the e-mail. I encourage parents to e-mail me with questions, concerns, etc. during the school year.
I build strong parent relationships by closely communicating with them in the first month of school. In addition, I consistently send e-mails regarding student behavior and academics. Many of these e-mails are positive.
Most parents rely on the Remind101 app to stay connected with my reminders about homework, tests, or upcoming assignments that are due. The Remind101 app allows students and parents to respond to me about scheduling extra help or about individual concerns that need to be addressed. The app is a fast, easy way to stay connected at all times with students and parents.
Hosting an Open House
Typically, my school has an open house at the beginning of September. This is an opportunity for me to chat with parents and hand out pertinent information to help strengthen the home-school connection (i.e. reading and math resources, websites to visit at home to strengthen skills, etc.).
Prior to beginning the school year, our principal schedules an open house for parents and incoming students. I feel this meeting sets the stage in building a strong relationship with parents and their young children.
During the first month of school, it is so important to make and build strong parent relationships. At my school, we usually have our open house the first week or two of school This is a huge bonus, having an open house early in the year. You can have that face-to-face contact and talk [with parents].
Enhance Your Skills
Parents play an important role in education. If you’re interested in learning new strategies to develop strong parent relationships, consider enrolling in Advancement Courses’ Building Parent Engagement course. In the online course, you will learn practical techniques and actionable tools to foster parental participation, such as using technology to maintain regular contact with parents and collaborating with parents to meet curriculum standards.