How to Develop Conversations with Parents
Parent teacher communication starts from the moment a child enters your preschool. Their impressions may be formed by seeing welcome signs in their own language, children’s artwork on display, and photos of children and their families on the wall.
According to the influential sociologist Peter Ludwig Berger, there are two types of parent teacher communication: one-way exchanges and two-way exchanges.
- One-way exchanges let parents know what’s happening in the classroom through tools such as a letter of introduction, newsletters and reports.
- Two-way exchanges are a way of developing a conversation with parents – sharing concerns, working out solutions and celebrating achievements.
And so, if you have something important to communicate, choose a two-way method. Two-way communication methods that preschool teachers have found useful include:
1. Phone Calls to Families
‘Good news calls’ – or voicemail messages – can be used to recognize a child’s progress or share an anecdote. They’re a fast and easy way to develop a positive relationship with families.
2. Interactive Parent-Teacher Conferences
Parents want to be treated with respect and as equals when communicating with educators. Concentrate on maintaining eye contact, being empathetic, asking open-ended questions and using everyday language.
The key to a successful parent-teacher conference is to listen to parents’ views as well as letting them know how their child is doing.
Inviting parents to help in the classroom establishes a rapport between parents and preschool teachers, and can be a way to informally raise any early concerns about a child’s behavior or learning. Take the time to ask parents if they have any feedback on the preschool or on ways their volunteer experience could have been improved.
4. Social Events
Socializing with parents develops family teacher relationships and breaks down communication barriers. Children are also likely to feel more supported if they see their parents welcomed into the classroom. Social events that have worked well in preschools include parent nights, park playdates, family picnics, pizza and board games evenings, and family movie nights.
5. Email Surveys
Asking families for feedback gives you a better understanding of their expectations of their children’s learning, uncovers small problems before they become big problems, and shows you respect their values and opinions.
Survey questions can cover issues such as early learning, school readiness, communication, relationships and support for cultural differences.
6. Using Sharing Technology
And finally, parents and teachers can use technology. Communicate with parents as they expect — in real-time, anywhere, at any time. We explore this in more detail below.
Using Technology to Engage Families
In recent years, new technology has revolutionized parent teacher communication.
Technologies such as welcome videos for new families and individual private digital portfolios enable teachers and parents to work together to provide children with the best possible start. Educa’s documentation and engagement software is playing a big role here.
Bridging the gap between home and preschool makes families feel more engaged with their children’s development, with many studies suggesting strong parent-teacher partnerships can help children develop positive self-esteem and be motivated to learn.
In the words of a report by researchers AC Baker and Manfredi Petitt for the National Association for the Education of Young Children, “Young children do best – now and later – when they are nurtured within a tightly woven web of love.”
That’s the mission that gets us out of bed each morning!