Parent Involvement in Schools Requires Good Parent Teacher Communication
As parents, keep communication lines with school and teachers flowing and open. Parents, teachers, and schools have the same goal and that is to help the child to learn and succeed in school, as well as to prepare them for their future. The University of Illinois states on the subject of parent teacher communication, “Research shows that children do better in school when parents talk often with teachers and become involved in the school.”
Teacher Susan Becker, M. Ed. states concerning effective parent teacher communication, “Communication on both sides is extremely important”. “The parents need information about what and how their child is learning, and the teacher needs important feedback from the parent about the child’s academic and social development.” (PBS parents).
Ideas and Strategies for Effective Parent Involvement in Schools and Good Communication
The following are a few ideas and strategies that have proven to be effective in improving parent teacher communication:
Parents, regularly communicate with teachers by phone, email, video interface apps like Skype, text message, or by directly meeting the student’s teachers and/or counselors by appointment.
When communicating with teachers and other school staff, maintain composure, endeavor to be calm at all times. Be thorough and detailed in sharing ideas with your child’s teachers. Ask questions. Prepare beforehand by putting together a list of ideas or issues to be discussed.
Plan ahead and make an appointment with the teacher; never “drop-in” to school and expect an immediate conference with the teacher. Once making an appointment, try not to cancel scheduled meetings. Parents and teachers can plan the year’s goals for their children and find ways to ensure that these goals are achieved.
John Halloran , a parent and co-founder of SnappSchool, a parent-teacher communication portal, encourages parents in Teach Hub.com to “communicate early and often”. “Communicating high standards from the beginning for the year, will set you up to have much more objective conversations with families about individual students.” Don’t wait until problems arise, take initiative at the beginning of the school year to get to know and communicate with your child’s teachers. Develop a pro-active relationship with the teachers and other school staff and administration.
Maintain Good Parent Teacher Communication Despite Obstacles or Issues
As parents, be patient in listening to the ideas of the teacher even if you may not totally agree with these ideas. Be willing to take suggestions from the teacher on what might help at home. Maintain a decorum of mutual respect. A child’s teacher may not handle difficulties in the optimum manner, or in what the parent perceives is an optimum manner. If you as a parent feel that there is an injustice that your child is being subjected to, get a third party involved such as a counselor or a principal (vice-principal, or principal) and try to resolve the issue.
Don’t assume that your child is always telling the truth about certain situations in school; realize that children tend to color the picture in a manner that is most favorable to them, the student, rather than honestly presenting both sides of the issue. For example, how many children come home and tell their parents, “We have no homework”, when there was, in fact, homework–this is not uncommon. Few schools and classrooms have a “no homework” policy. Children and teens certainly do not always lie about situations at school, but parents need to be aware that under certain situations, most teens, and adults for that matter, shade the truth, and don’t be quick to cast blame on the school. As issues arise, remember, there are two sides to every issue, some say three: in this situation, the side of the teacher, the side of the student, and perhaps a third side, that which more closely reflects the complete truth about difficult situations. If there is a problem, it usually can be worked out to the best interests of all involved.
Therefore, communicate with individual teachers at the beginning of the school year on what to expect with homework, for example, from each class or course. Keep on top of your child’s homework and school schedule. Make homework fulfillment one topic in parent teacher communication throughout the school year. Fulfilling homework assignments generally results in higher test scores and higher grades, in addition to the weight of the grade of the homework assignment itself. If the homework is overwhelming, not the case in all schools, but in some schools it can be an issue, with excessive homework, e.g. five hours per night almost every night, communicate with individual teachers, counselors, and administration.
Parents and teachers share the same goal, which is the long-term welfare of the child or student. Sharing information or ideas in a non-confrontational way is necessary. Parents and teachers should compare notes based on the child’s history, both from the parent’s perspective, and through observations made of day-by-day behavior as noted by the teacher.
Parent Involvement in Schools Necessitates Honest Communication
Honest parent-teacher and teacher parent communication is still the best policy in ensuring that communication between parents and teachers results in a beneficial outcome for children. Parents may have developed certain strategies in dealing with the child or teen at home and this might help the teacher in addressing learning or behavioral issues associated with the student; share these strategies with the teacher.
Parent involvement in schools necessitates maintaining a high level of communication between the parent and teacher, not only in the beginning of the school year, but throughout the year. All parents need to cooperate to make sure that mainstream students, students with special needs, including those with ADHD, will have the optimum opportunity for a successful school year, an excellent education, and good preparation for the future.
This article was prepared by a high school, formerly middle school, public school teacher, and partially based on information from the book, Overcoming ADHD Without Medication: A Guidebook for Parents and Teachers, by the AYCNP.
References and Resources for Parent Teacher Communication and Parent Involvement in Education
1. Halloran, J. 7 Effective Parent Teacher Communication Tips. Teach Hub. Retrieved September 21, 2014. http://www.teachhub.com/parent-teacher-communication-tips
2. Overcoming ADHD Without Medication: A Guidebook for Parents and Teachers. (2012). Association for Youth, Children and Natural Psychology (AYCNP). http://northeastbookspublishing.net/ADHD_Books_Overcoming_ADHD_Without_Medication.html
3. Parent-Teacher Communication. Helping Children Succeed in School. University of Illinois Extension. http://urbanext.illinois.edu/succeed/communication.cfm
4. The Parent-Teacher Partnership. Education. PBS parent. Retrieved September 21, 2014. http://www.pbs.org/parents/education/going-to-school/parent-involvement/parent-teacher-partnership/
Other resources on parent teacher communication and parent involvement in schools and education:
1. Kraft, M.A., Dougherty, S. M. (2012, October). The Effect of Teacher-Family Communication on Student Engagement: Evidence from a Randomized Field Experiment. Harvard Graduate School of Education. http://scholar.harvard.edu/files/mkraft/files/kraft__dougherty_teacher_communication_jree.pdf
2. Mariconda, B. Five Keys to Successful Parent-Teacher Communication. Scholastic.com. http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/article/five-keys-successful-parent-teacher-communication – This article deals with the subject for the teachers, as opposed to the parent, so might be better entitled – “Five Keys to Successful Teacher Parent Communication”.
3. RTI & Parent-School Relationship. National Center for Learning Disabilities. http://www.ncld.org/students-disabilities/rti-parent-school-relationship
4. Schafer, R. (2012). The Agents. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UweucEU1v28&feature=youtu.be The Agents is a video documentary featuring interviews with teens on the topics of dealing with teen stress, overwhelming schedules and competition, teen depression, and ways to deal with stress from school.
photo credits: “A School Boy And Teacher” by Paul Gooddy; “Dreaming Student With Books” by David Castillo Dominici – both courtesy of http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/