Bridging the gap between the classroom and a student’s home life can feel overwhelming and time-consuming. But the learning (or lack thereof) that happens outside of school hours directly affects the learning in school. As you build relationships with a new set of parents this fall, here are ten easy strategies to support them:
- Learn their names. Super simple, right? But when your interactions with your parents are short and sweet, it can be easy to let that information slip your memory. Knowing how a parent wants to be referred to shows respect and honors the relationship. You and the parents are partners, and as such, you should be on a first-name basis.
- Send encouraging notes. Every child loves to find a note tucked into their lunch box. Similarly, every parent loves to hear a fun story or simple victory from their child’s day. Make it a habit to send home notes every so often.
- Call with good news. Parents expect phone calls from teachers to bring bad news. But nothing is more uplifting than to hear unexpected positive praise. Parents will feel encouraged, students will feel bolstered, and you will be reminded of those meaningful ah-ha moments that make it all worth it.
- Suggest conversation starters. We all know how ineffective the question “how was your day?” is. Good, children’s universal reply. Help parents connect with their kids by sending home topics you’ve covered or books you read in class. Specific questions about their day will jog students’ memories and help them share with their parents.
- Create a fun reading list. Discovering good books is one of the hardest parts of keeping reading momentum. Provide families with a list of diverse books they can find at the local or school library to make choosing the next book easy.
- Suggest Strategies for Engagement. All parents want to connect with their kids and help them with their homework, but some do not know where to start. Give parents tips on using flashcards, studying spelling words, or asking open-ended questions about a story.
- Celebrate at-home learning. Encourage students to bring artwork from home or pictures of activities done with their parents. Dedicate a section of your bulletin board to showcasing and celebrating families’ learning together.
- Invite parents into the classroom. Parents can help facilitate a project, share their expertise, or even help mount and hang the class’s latest art project. Bringing parents into the place of learning will make them feel more comfortable and a part of their child’s life.
- Translate Documents and Discussions. Many parents are not native English speakers. Learn who could benefit from translation and work to make all meetings and essential documents accessible. Have a translator present at parent-teacher conferences and provide documents, such as state exam instructions, in their native language.
- Value Diversity. Families take many different forms. Create a safe space for all families to feel accepted to grow and learn together with their children.
Implementing even a handful of these strategies will strengthen your relationships with parents and set a foundation for a successful school year.
Contact us today for more information and to learn how you can bring HIPPY to your school or district.