Good parent-teacher communication is a two-way street. It's built on respect and a willingness to be honest and compassionate. While mutual effort is expected here, there are a few things that your school can do to set the right tone for how you and your students' parents communicate with each other.
1. Emphasise that parents are important to the learning process
There is abundant research to prove that consistent and meaningful communication with parents benefits students.
Students, whose parents have a good relationship with their school, have shown:
- increased class participation
- positive feelings towards attending school
- better grasp of the learning material
- improved academic performance
- reduced school-related stress
Educating parents about the tangible benefits of maintaining an open and honest relationship with their child's teacher can lay the groundwork for communication that is collaborative. It can help parents feel comfortable with sharing about their child, and this will allow teachers to understand their students' needs better. It's a win-win!
2. Upgrade your communication channels
The likelihood is that a bulk of your school's communication may already be taking place online – on email, texts, social media DMs, your school website, etc. But is it working well for you? Ask yourself the following questions.
- Is your communication efficient? Is it transparent? Think about whether you have a system in place to organise and oversee parent-teacher communication that takes place on private chats (e.g. Whatsapp/Telegram).
- Do you have a way to disseminate less urgent information, e.g. a school events calendar, that does not spam parents' inboxes?
- Are your communication channels secure? Do you risk data breach when you send/receive sensitive information such as children's particulars and payment details through informal channels?
- Is it worth upgrading in order to make parent-school communication smoother and more secure?
Technology that is both sophisticated and school-centric exists, and it's there for you to use to your advantage. Some school communication apps, such as LittleLives, check all of the above boxes by allowing for both structure and variety (e.g. private message function, mass broadcast function, and survey function on one centralised application).
3. Be proactive and provide ongoing updates
Building a good relationship takes time and consistency. Twice-a-year parent-teacher conferences are just not enough. Parents appreciate knowing that their child's development is on track and they would want to know about potential issues as soon as possible. Consistent updates on a child's school activities, strengths and weaknesses, and learning milestones will serve to build a parent's trust in your school and teachers.
This is another area of your school communication that can benefit from going digital. If you're a teacher and your class has around 20 children, a personal note for each of them several times a week, if not daily, might sound like another task to pile onto your already busy day. So, it can be worth it to invest in a system that allows you to record class observations online and update parents automatically. Some school management systems, such as LittleLives, allow teachers to upload pictures, videos, and learning points, which can be greatly informative to parents on top of easing teachers' workload.
Now is a good time as any to rethink the way you communicate with families. Examine your current methods, pinpoint the areas for improvement, and most importantly, use the tools that are made specifically to make school communication easier.