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PROFESSIONAL LEARNING

9 Strategies for Improving Home-School Communication

6 Min Read
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Communication between home and school is important not just for teachers and family members but also for students. Educators and caregivers can work together to provide a support system that helps children thrive and succeed in school.

Most educators are on the same page by recognizing that family participation in schooling can make a huge difference in a student who feels confident and enjoys learning. That’s especially true if they struggle with both the academic and social aspects of schooling. When family members and teachers regularly share information about a child and what’s happening in the classroom, it supports the learning process from all sides, setting up students for success.

Note that “home” and “family” will not mean the same thing to all students. Many students have complicated home situations or possibly no home at all. The family members interacting with teachers are often parents, but this too will depend on the student. Be sure to consider what forms of communication are feasible for your classroom, accounting for each student’s individual needs.

What Open Communication Means to Parents, Teachers, and Students

Parents and caregivers are the first teachers in a child’s life, being there to guide them through early milestones. Putting their children into the education system can feel jarring because they’re no longer the primary educator. This is when forming a relationship with the teacher becomes crucial. Communicating with teachers lets families stay involved so they can support what’s happening in the classroom.

But family members who are involved in their children’s education and regularly connect with teachers aren’t only there to make sure that homework gets done. They’re able to encourage their children, participate in their academic trajectory, and become invested in their education. Overall, this can lead to children who perform better in school both academically and socially.

For teachers, being able to communicate with parents helps them better understand a child’s strengths and their own individual personality and learning style. The more information they have about a student, the more teachers can focus on teaching and being able to address and overcome challenges along the way that may be unique to each child.

It’s the student who benefits the most from communication between home and school; some advantages may include:

  • Improved academic achievement
  • A more positive attitude toward learning
  • Feelings of empowerment and confidence
  • Enhanced relationships with family, peers, and teachers
  • Regular class attendance

Home-School Communication Examples

Building a relationship through effective and open communication is the core of a successful educational experience for children. Here are 9 caregiver and parent-teacher communication strategies that can be used to build relationships that support children through the learning process:

1. Initiate first contact

As soon as teachers know which students they have in their classroom for the year, they can initiate contact with the families. This can be as simple as sending an introductory email or making a phone call. In any case, it gives both family members and teachers an early opportunity to introduce each other and open the lines of communication. Knowing that the teacher is available right from the start gives family members the peace of mind that they’re going to be involved in the learning process.

2. Consistent communication

In order to be effective, communication needs to be consistent and frequent. Family members want ongoing feedback from teachers about how their child is doing when it comes to both learning and their behavior and attitude. Consistent feedback is also beneficial for teachers, who can discuss both the successes of a student as well as any areas of concern. This consistent communication also shows students that their education is part of a greater whole and takes place both at school and at home.

3. Parent-teacher conferences

Don’t underestimate the usefulness of parent-teacher conferences (regardless of whether it’s a parent attending or another family member). This is a great opportunity for parents and teachers to sit down face-to-face and openly discuss how and what a child is doing in school. It’s also a good time for parents to talk about anything that’s happening at home that could impact the behavior and learning of their child in the classroom.

4. Parent-teacher-student conferences

Similar to a parent-teacher conference, this variant includes students in the meeting; it’s a great way to give them more responsibility for their own learning and education. Adults in the student’s life can encourage talking openly about questions or concerns. During these conferences, many students respond well to any feedback their teacher has about their grades or behavior. They feel supported by both their family and their teacher, which can lead to better school performance.

5. Student work folders

Sending student work folders home each week allows teachers and family members to communicate on an ongoing basis. These folders are a valuable tool and can include information about not only grades and performance but also classroom behavior. Teachers can also share positive feedback, providing encouragement for each individual student.

Family members can use these work folders as a way to review and stay involved in their child’s progress, helping to reinforce what’s happening in the classroom. As an organizational tool, folders clearly outline the expectations for everyone.

6. Classroom newsletters

The traditional newsletter is still a great way to communicate what’s happening at school. Newsletters are easy for teachers to prepare by using a template that can be either emailed or printed and sent home with each student. The newsletter can include information about classroom events, upcoming meetings, and what the class is currently learning. Consider including a “family” section, where newsletter recipients can provide feedback to one another.

7. Class website

Most schools already have a website, but a dedicated classroom website allows for quick communication between teachers and families. Busy caregivers can visit these pages to know what’s happening in their child’s classroom. Consider including the following information on your class webpage:

  • Announcements about events both in and out of the classroom
  • Current assignments that students are working on
  • Upcoming topics so families and students can prepare
  • Useful information and tips about classwork and homework
  • Featured student of the month and/or other awards
  • Answers to frequently asked questions

Teachers can even provide a bit of information about themselves to build a connection with website readers.

8. Mobile phone and apps

There’s an app for everything, including school-to-home communication. Specific apps give family members and teachers an easier and better means for frequent communication. Teachers can send reminders and messages to the entire class, to family members only, or to specific people. Building a classroom community using one of these apps means that everyone can stay in touch about what’s happening at school with tools they already use every day.

9. Home visits

Another good way to build a relationship and strong communication is through home visits. Done once or twice a year, these informal and relaxed visits give teachers a personal insight into a student’s home life and environment. Teachers can learn how the child is supported at home. They can also gain a better understanding of the family’s values and goals. All of this information enables family members, teachers, and students to work together in making education a success.

Final Thoughts

Developing and improving communication between family members and teachers takes effort on all sides. Using these school-home communication strategies, you can create a dialogue to build respect and trust throughout a child’s educational experience.

This article was adapted from a blog post initially developed by the education technology company Classcraft, which was acquired by HMH in 2023. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of HMH.

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