12 Essential Parent Teacher Communication Tips for 2024
We hear it from teachers all the time. “What’s the secret to dealing with parents?” In an education landscape where parents are more demanding than ever, effective parent teacher communication has become essential. But what are the things to know when communicating with parents? And how can teachers and parents work together to benefit students, improving educational outcomes? We’ve put together 12 tips for teachers looking for help navigating the challenging world of parent teacher communication.
1. Embrace Technology
Education apps are one of the best ways to keep parents in the loop. You can easily share details about their child's progress, assignments, and classroom activities – so parents never feel left out. For early childhood learning this might mean snapping a photo of your student writing their name for the first time to be shared with parents. For high school, test scores and grades can be shared with a simple tap or click. Whatever app or platform you decide to use, use it to foster a sense of trust with parents – communicating with them often and keeping them informed and feeling valued.
2. Be Friendly
It might sound obvious, but a little friendliness goes a long way. Parents can often feel nervous about entrusting the care of their child to someone new. One of the best ways to break down this barrier is to present yourself as someone warm, friendly and trusting. You’d be surprised at how fast parents can open up and treat you as an equal in caring for their child.
3. Celebrate Achievements
Focusing on what’s positive is one of the best ways to put parents at ease. Even if a child might be struggling in one area, make sure to celebrate the progress they’ve made. Positive reinforcement not only boosts student confidence, but make parents feel comfortable and more likely to respond positively to feedback.
4. Listen Actively
Listening is the basis of all effective communication. Don’t do all the speaking, but try to use parent-teacher meetings to get more information about children and their families. This not only allows you to benefit from parents’ unique knowledge about their child, but it shows parents you value their opinions, experience and viewpoints. By taking their concerns seriously, you’ll make them great partners in educating your student.
5. Be Inclusive
Many teachers work in communities with diverse populations that might come from different cultures than their own. Being able to tailor your messaging to people from different backgrounds and cultures is key for effective communication. Then result, however, is profoundly rewarding. Not only are parents from all backgrounds and communities treated equally, but you’ll grow as a person, learning about the diverse cultures that make up your student body.
6. Address Concerns Directly
Some teachers have a tendency to avoid conflict with parents. But it’s only by identifying the problem and coming up with real solutions can conflicts be solved. This might involve brainstorming as many solutions to the issue as possible, and jointly evaluating the pros and cons of each. By coming up with joint-solutions to concerns, you not only address problems directly, but parents feel involved with the process, mitigating future conflicts.
7. Ask for Help
It’s often useful to reflect on best practice when talking to parents. This might mean engaging collogues who have decades more experience, asking them how they defused situations and creating trusting relationships with parents. Reflecting regularly on how trust is established and maintained is a useful tool in improving parent teacher communication.
8. Communicate Frequently and Constantly
Every couple knows communicating frequently and consistently is key to a successful relationship. The same might be said of parent-teacher relationships. Make sure you keep parents in the loop, giving them continual updates about their child’s progress. Today this is even easier with the help of many apps used to share photos, videos and feedback directly with parents.
9. Write Things Down
Teachers often go into meetings with parents unprepared. Maybe you’ll have student reports at hand, but have you planned what you’re going to say? Before parent meetings it’s a good idea to create a few notes on each student, summarizing key talking points, so you don’t get distracted from what you want to say.
10. Be Realistic about Parent’s Role
It’s easy to ask parents for help in reprimanding a child. Something happens in the classroom, and you might feel like asking parents for support in punishing bad behavior in school. This isn’t always the best approach. Make it clear you’re not asking parents to punish their children for an event that happened in school. Rather, inform them of what’s taking place and tell them you want to work together to come up with an agreement on how to best handle the situation.
11. Acknowledge Parent’s Emotional Involvement
Parents put a great deal of time and energy in raising their child. If they’ve come to you after school for a meeting, they might have left work early. If they’ve scheduled a call with you, they might be doing this at the expense of other commitments. When talking to parents, don’t ever forget how invested they are in their child’s success. This will bring a sense of mutual respect and understanding to your conversations with parents.
12. Follow Up
Say a parent raised an issue with you at a meeting. By following up, you’re valuing their concerns and demonstrating you care about their child. The best way to do this is by taking a simple note during the meeting about something you need to follow up on. After this, mark a date in your calendar when you’d like reach out again. You’d be surprised at how following up with even small things quickly builds strong relationships with parents.