Professional Learning

9 Caregiver and Parent-Teacher Communication Strategies

6 Min Read
illustrated image of calendar, ipad, and other mobile devices

Every teacher wants to start the school year off on the right foot! Though we are mainly concerned with our students, we do also need to think about communication between parents or caregivers and teachers. Maintaining communication between school and home is a wonderful tool for family engagement in their child’s learning, as well as a way to increase family involvement within the school as a whole.

Communication between school and home is a frequent topic of staff meetings in schools. It is something teachers do regularly and in various forms. Schools and grade levels may vary in the medium they use to keep parents and caregivers in the loop. However, maintaining a clear line of communication is necessary for teachers to help establish a positive relationship between school and home. In some places, this article uses the language of parent-teacher communication, but we recognize that in many cases, teachers are not communicating with parents but rather with another guardian or caregiver.

5 Tips for How to Communicate with Parents as Teachers

1. Communication Starts on Day One

Depending on your school’s schedule, day one may be Meet the Teacher Night before the first day of school, or it may just be the first day of school!

I send home a flipbook to use as an easy guide for families to see all classroom procedures and important information in one spot; this helps ensure they know how I run my classroom. Many families opt to put this guide on their refrigerators to refer to throughout the school year. Many programs, including Into Reading and Into Math include family letters included as part of the curriculum to help you communicate to families what upcoming lessons will be about and how they can support students while they’re not at school.

2. Be Mindful

It’s important to keep in mind that each family is unique. There may be language barriers, caregiver restrictions, or limitations in internet accessibility. These factors are typically noted in student files through the main office. I suggest you touch base with your school counselor if you have any questions pertaining to specific students.

At the beginning of every year, I send home a brief form for parents or caregivers to complete so I know the best way to communicate with them individually. Be flexible with your families based on their needs! If there’s a language barrier, I utilize language software and a translator as needed. If there are restrictions on whom may be contacted at home regarding school-related concerns, I have this noted and relay information to those with approval. If there are limitations in internet accessibility, I will send paper copies home.

3. Communicate Regularly

Principals and administrators may provide guidance regarding communication, but I believe it’s a good rule of thumb to reach out to families once a week. You could communicate through a post on your class website, a message through an educational communication app, or a communication log in an agenda or folder.

As an elementary educator, I like to share a “Peek at Our Week” with families on Fridays. I have done this in various forms over the years—through a typed-up note sent home in take-home folders, a post on our class website, or an email to families that I schedule to be sent out right at dismissal.

4. Share the Good Stuff, Too

You should not solely be reaching out to families regarding negative behaviors in school. You want to create positive relationships with your students and their families. I personally enjoy sending positive messages the most!

Throughout the school year, I like to share positive behaviors I observe, such as a student helping out another classmate or being supportive on the playground. Every November, I send home personalized cards for students; I write two reasons why I am thankful they are in my class. These are my favorite notes to write.

5. Be Prompt

There are instances when a phone call or email home is warranted. If there is a scuffle on the playground on a Tuesday, parents or caregivers should not be notified about this on Friday. You may need to call them while on your prep or talk to them at dismissal. When talking to parents or other adults in charge, keep them in the loop with information about the child, and do it promptly.

It’s also necessary to keep in mind that each school has its own behavior policies, and it is important to follow them. Be sure to keep up-to-date with these policies and procedures at your specific school.

4 Ways for Teachers to Communicate with Parents

1. Web-Based Calendar

Whether you teach kindergarten or high school, there’s a lot going on in your classroom! There is also a lot going on in each child’s life outside of school. Giving families easy access to a platform that allows them to look ahead at what is going on in the classroom is a wonderful tool.

Here are some suggestions you may want to include on your class calendar:

  • Assignments
  • Assemblies
  • Field trips
  • Specials (P.E., art, music, language, library)
  • Theme days
  • Class birthdays

In addition to apps and programs that can be used as a web-based calendar, you could also use a message system where you list out what is coming up for the week or month ahead.

2. Class Website

Communicating with families should be as easy as possible. A class website can help keep all of your information in one place. Schools will have their specific protocol for maintaining a class website, but there are some key resources you will want to have on your website:

  • Access to the web-based calendar
  • Daily specials schedule
  • Classroom reminders
  • Instructions on how to best reach you
  • Homework posted

I’ve also found it helpful to include these resources on my website:

  • Digital copies of any handouts
  • Recommended independent books for your grade level
  • Recommended read-aloud books for your grade level
  • Study guides
  • Enriching and educational websites, apps, or games

3. Educational Communication App or Messaging Service

There are free and easy-to-use apps that allow you to communicate with parents or caregivers directly. Search online for parent-teacher communication apps to find one that works for you. I have often found that using an app has been more effective in communicating with home, both individually and as a whole class. However, there are families who prefer email, and there are apps that allow messages to be exchanged through both mediums!

4. Family Involvement in the Classroom

Provide parents or caregivers with a way to get involved in their children’s education beyond working on homework and projects together. Their children spend the majority of their weekdays in school, and it can be exciting for families to see what goes on in the classroom. Here are some ways to get parents or families involved:

  • Weekly Mystery Reader: Adults can sign up at the beginning of the year to read a book to the class during a specific day and time. I typically ask them to sign up at Back-to-School Night, and then I send confirmation emails a month before and a week before the adults are due to come into the classroom.
  • Special Persons’ Day: There are a lot of special days to celebrate loved ones throughout the school year—Grandparents’ Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and so on. In February, I like to have a time when students can invite one person to come into the classroom for “Special Persons’ Day” for a read aloud, snacks, and crafts.
  • Project Presentations: After you have students complete a project, allow parents or caregivers to come in and take a look at all their hard work! I like to set up a gallery walk featuring students’ projects, but it also works to display their work on their desks.
  • Classroom Volunteers: Invite family members to volunteer for events or celebrations. They could also act as chaperones on field trips.

Making a deliberate and coordinated effort to communicate with parents is part of our job as teachers. By utilizing these teacher and parent communication ideas in your classroom, you are making a conscious effort to foster a positive relationship with families that can only benefit your students and classroom!

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