Communicating with parents can be a struggle! There are so many reasons why teachers may not communicate with the parents of their students on a regular basis. They are busy and so are the parents. Finding the time and actually being able to reach the parents can be difficult. Teachers know how important it is to talk with parents, but who has time to make 30 phone calls a day?!
I worked for a principal that required all the teachers to contact 5 parents a day. This meant I had to give up some of my time so that my parent contact log would be complete and ready to turn in on Friday afternoon. Personally, I think this is crazy! When parent communication is required in this way it becomes ineffective, impersonal, and just another thing added to my already full to-do list. Involving them in the learning process was not something I disagreed with. However, requiring it in this way led to a lack of motivation. It didn’t help to boost the morale of the teachers. So, this all led me to figure out some better ways to make that contact. The bonus was that it also increased their engagement.
Why Is It Important for Teachers to Communicate with Parents
I know what I am about to tell you will not come as a shock. Partnerships between school and home lead to better academic outcomes because it helps to provide insight into the student’s needs. Getting parents involved and engaged supports the overall success of the student. Research has shown time and time again that the most successful schools all have strong relationships with parents. They see the value that parents bring to the school community; find ways to elevate the voice of marginalized parents; and work side-by-side with parents to ensure that each student is successful. Parental involvement is a crucial component of creating a positive school culture.
How Often Should Teachers Communicate with Parents
ALL THE TIME! If you want to keep parents informed and involved then the communication can’t ever stop. Parents want to know what their children are up to and they want to be a part of their success. But, don’t worry, talking with parents doesn’t always have to be difficult and time-consuming.
I have compiled a list of 12 of my favorite ways to communicate with my students’ parents. The best part is many of these ideas won’t take away much, if any, of your time, some can be led by the students themselves, and all of them are sure to keep parents informed and involved.
Effective Ways for Teachers to Communicate with Parents
Sometimes you just need parents to know things. They need to be informed about what students are learning. You need to celebrate the wins of each student. You should want help to address the challenges students may present. The only way your communication is effective with this type of information is if you actually reach the parents.
Ideas for how to get information to parents
- Emails- Of course, there is nothing better than having an actual conversation with someone. The trouble is finding the time to do it. Make your life a little easier by streamlining your communication process with ready-made email templates. If you have your templates ready then you can quickly and easily just fill in the blanks.
- Class Newsletter- Send home a newsletter at the beginning of each week with important information. Include upcoming events, learning objectives, and links to extra support resources. You can even include a spot to celebrate the wins of students from the week before!
- Use Communication Apps- There are so many apps available for teachers to send messages to parents. Find one that fits your needs and makes communicating easier for you! I love Class Dojo because it is as simple as texting and parents can get ahold of you when they need also. Just set yourself as “away” when it is time to put that work/life balance into play!
- Conferences- Yes, I know this one will take up some of your time, but it is also the most effective when it comes to your struggling students. Whether you have a student who is struggling academically or with behavior, conferencing with the parents to create an action plan together has a much bigger impact than if you create that action plan on your own.
- Use Class Websites- Once you have the website set up, it is simple to switch information out from week to week. Keep it simple with important dates, class objectives and activities, and student highlights.
- Host Parent Workshops- This one also takes more time to plan and prepare but if you really want to get parents involved then it is a great engagement tool. Your workshops can be about anything– teach parents how to help their kids study, manage their time, or get the right mindset. Ask parents what they need and what they can contribute. Collaborate with other teachers to really make this a success.
- Send Thank You Notes- Just like anyone else, parents want to feel appreciated and valued when it comes to their child’s education and success. Keep some thank you cards handy to send home periodically.
Creative Ways for Teachers to Communicate with Parents
If you are looking for some more creative and unique ways to communicate with the parents of your students then I have you covered with that too!
- Post Pictures- Pick a shared site where you can post pictures of the happenings in your classroom. This lets parents see exactly what goes on and it is a great conversation starter between you and the parent and the student and the parent. Don’t feel like you have to have some amazing lesson planned to get pictures to post. I even post pictures of students when they are just taking a test. (Did you know you can post pictures and videos in Class Dojo?)
- Invite Parents In- I have seen Kindergarten teachers invite parents to class to read a story or work on a project with their students, and I think there is no reason why secondary teachers can’t use this same idea. Have parents come in to teach part of a lesson, work on a project, or help students connect the content to the real world. The possibilities are endless with this one!
- Start a Class Podcast- Record students sharing their learning experiences and upload it so that parents can listen to your class podcast. This one can be totally student-led. Let them come up with the topics, write their script, and handle the technology. Trust me, they can figure it out!
- Use Social Media- There is a good chance parents are spending some time in their day scrolling through social media sites. Create a Facebook group or Instagram page for your class to share information, pictures, and videos. Just be sure all of the appropriate settings are in place.
- Use QR Codes- Create QR codes to send home to share student work. More and more students are completing their work digitally and sharing that work through a QR code is simple and quick.
Take a little bit of time to establish a practice for how you communicate with parents. Once you do this, you will see engagement increase. You keep parents informed and get them excited to work alongside you as you help students reach their goals.