Communication is integral for the holistic development of children. While many emphasise the importance of teachers communicating with students in the classroom, how they communicate with parents or carers should not be overlooked. Effective communication establishes a strong relationship of trust, respect, and transparency between parents, students, and teachers. That is why in every interaction, the goal must be to strengthen this relationship for the development and wellbeing of children.
Parents and teachers share a common interest – doing the best for the child. To achieve this, teachers can adopt certain practices that will lay a strong foundation. These are:
1. Be Respectful and Warm
Always be respectful to the parents. It can help you understand their expectations, needs, or concerns. In practical ways, respectful communication means:
● Providing parents with the information they want in simple terms or seeking the help of an interpreter if they speak different languages.
● Using pronouns such as ‘we’, and ‘us’ with the children and their parents
● Understanding the unique circumstances, the parents may be facing
2. Be a Good Listener
Listening is another critical element of communication. By listening to the parents and carers, you get invaluable information regarding the child’s educational experience, their families, along with their opinion on the progress made by the child.
Some of the fundamental rules to listening well are:
● Make eye contact and occasionally, nod or say “yes” when parents speak to you.
● Let the parents complete what they have to say, then repeat back to them a summary of their thoughts to ensure you’ve understood them.
● Check on their feelings or the emotional aspect of their words. For example: Were they upset while communicating with you or maybe concerned about a particular incident?
● Ask questions to get more information. It can be open-ended questions, allowing parents to share further information – this is much more effective than simply saying no or yes. For instance, “What concerns you the most, or has he/she shown significant behavioural changes?”.
● Please do your best to acknowledge their perspective as a parent and try and place yourself in their shoes.
3. Adhere to a Problem-Solving Approach
It’s common for parents to raise concerns about their children, especially when they are worried and uncertain. In such a scenario, adhere to a problem-solving approach, so you and the parents can work together to address the particular concern.
To do this, you can follow a systematic method of
● Identifying the exact problem (or the reason of concern)
● Considering the best possible solution
● Evaluating the risks and the benefits of implementing the solution
● Effectively implementing the solution and,
● Reviewing the difference, the solution made
4. Stay Positive About Working Together
Teachers-parents together are a great team so always work on building cooperative effort. This involves not making prior assumptions, communicating often, and discussing the challenges without judging.
5. Appreciate the Emotional Involvement of Parents
Never forget to appreciate how invested parents are in raising their children. Teachers must acknowledge these simple yet meaningful contributions while communicating with parents, whether it is their guardian who took a day off to meet you or a concerned parent who often calls you to know how their child is doing at school.
These tips will help foster better parent-teacher relationships and positive outcomes for children.