5 Keys to Effective Parent Communication

Ever feel like you're using tin cans to try to communicate with parents? Well.....maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration...but there are some keys that will help with communication. I'm excited to join in with my awesome bloggy buddies at Schroeder Shenanigans in 2nd and Lucky Little Learners to share tips & tricks for effective parent communication.

Establish positive lines of communication at the beginning of the year. If the first time families hear from you is to hear a concern or address an undesired behavior, parents are kind of put on the defensive. By communicating early with positive notes, families feel that they are part of the team...and more importantly, that YOU feel like you are part of THEIR team. Then, if & when you do need to contact families about a concern, the news is much more well received, and families feel that you're working together for a solution.

Consider hosting events to welcome families into the classroom or building. In my experience, this has been the #1 most effective thing I've done to foster a family culture for my classroom. It really gives me a time to meet families and chat with parents about not just their child. Parents get the
feeling that you really do care about not just your student, but the family as well. I find that the best events are ones that are not particularly focused on academics or a holiday. Some families don't
celebrate holidays, & feel uncomfortable at such events. A few of our most successful family nights:
  • Snowflake Reading Fest - We invited families in to listen to a story, listen to their child read to them, make bookmarks, and enjoy hot cocoa & popcorn.
  • Cardboard Carnival - Students had created their own cardboard carnival games in the classroom. We hosted an evening when families came in & got to play the games too. Kiddos were thrilled to share their games with their families & parents got a kick out of seeing their child's creativity.
  • STEM Family Night - we just hosted this one a few months ago. We've been doing lots of STEM activities in the classroom. We asked families to come in & try their hand at some of them, & had some new STEM activities for them to do, as well. BONUS? We also did our parent/teacher conferences during the evening. (I did have several volunteers come in to help monitor the STEM stations).
At the beginning of the year, let families know how/when you'll be communicating. Will you send home a weekly newsletter with classroom information? Monthly? How will parents receive information regarding their child? Will you write a note in student agendas? Do you have a form that you will send home? Make sure that parents know what to expect and what to look for. And then follow through! If you're sending home a bi-weekly newsletter and then it becomes hit & miss....families learn quickly to stop checking for those bi-weekly newsletters! If you've said you'll be sending individual information home via a specific form & then you send a note home in an envelope...they may miss seeing the note in the envelope because they've been seeing/looking for that form.

Consider 'non-traditional' forms of communicating with families. We're in the 21st Century & most of us are now used to communicating via Facebook or other online venues. I know some districts allow Facebook pages for classrooms. Mine does not...but I know that I would love to be able to get classroom information on my FB feed! Don't forget about email! There are also a few parent/teacher communication websites like Class Messenger & Remind. I personally use Remind & love it! It lets me send quick classroom messages/reminders to parents via text. Parents send a text to I love that I can go online & schedule a reminder text to be sent to families: "Don't forget library books are due tomorrow!"..."Picture tomorrow! Get ready to smile!".

Think like an copy editor/graphic designer. Sending home emails, newsletters, or notes? Think about these tricks professionals use:
  • Pictures - Families love to see pictures of their kiddos in action in the classroom! Include pics of your students working in the classroom in your newsletters & emails. Take group pictures of kiddos who earned their Pizza Hut Book It that month. Parents & kiddos love to see this recognition in print!
  • Color - Copy notes & newsletters on color paper. (Studies show that purple is the color that is most often noticed).
  • Bullets - People are in a hurry. It's much easier to read information that's in bulletin form rather than full paragraph text. There's actual research that shows bullets increase readability & scannability. Easier/quicker to read = more likely to be read.
Whatever mode of communication you use, pay attention to the results. Do parents return permission slips or respond to requests in a timely manner? Do they show up for events/meetings? If you find you'd like to increase your results...take a look at making a few tweaks. Make sure to stop by the linky to discover more ideas, tips, or tricks!