Parents are the first teachers for their children, guiding them through early developmental milestones. Once the child enters the formal education system, parents no longer remain the sole educators or care givers and the responsibility of all round development of the child becomes a shared one between the parents and the educators. Both parties work together towards the common goal of educating children to become responsible and capable citizens in the future. To achieve this, effective communication between both the stakeholders is essential in sharing relevant information with each other about a student. This creates trust and understanding between them, which enhances their ability to work together towards the student’s well-being, development, and success.
Some of the benefits to a student resulting from effective communication between school and parents are:
Regularity in class attendance
A positive attitude towards learning and school
Better academic achievement
High confidence and self-concept
Better cognitive, emotional, and social development
Good relationship with teachers, parents, and classmates
Enhanced problem-solving skills leading to better adaptability in new environments
Higher homework completion rate
Enhanced classroom participation
Parent engagement can be enhanced by making a meaningful connection through two-way communication. In one-way communication, the sender just sends the information without expecting a reply. Some examples include notices and newsletters. In two-way communication, both parties share information, thoughts, and ideas, and give feedback to each other. Parent-teacher meetings and phone calls are examples of two-way communication.
It is the school’s responsibility to develop and follow efficacious strategies for communicating with the parent community. These should be established keeping local dynamics in mind. Some of the strategies are given below:
Initial Contact – The communication procedures, protocols, and policies of the school should be informed to the parents at the beginning of the new academic session during ‘Parent Orientation’, by including the same in the diary and through e-mail. Parents should be updated of any subsequent changes in them.
Consistent and Clear Communication – Parents expect continuous feedback from teachers about how their children are faring in the areas pertaining to academics, behaviour, attitudes, and extra-curricular activities. Creation of systems is vital for the communication to be frequent, consistent, and clear. Some examples of such systems include school diary, newsletters, and weekly reports.
Parent-Teacher Meetings (PTM) – The usefulness of these in-person meetings can never be underestimated. They provide opportunities to both the educators and the parents to openly discuss all aspects of the student’s learning, weaknesses, strengths, areas of concern, behaviour, attitude, and interests or lack thereof. Both parties could discuss improvement plans and reinforcement strategies for the benefit of the student if required. The teacher may also come to know about anything that is happening at home which could have an impact on the behaviour and performance of the student at school. The school should schedule the dates and number of such meetings at the beginning of the academic session, include it in the school calendar and share it with parents. This will ensure the parents’ attendance by enabling them to plan for the meeting.
Student Portfolios – Teachers can send students’ portfolios and note-books home for parents to review and stay involved in their child’s progress. Positive feedback to parents by teachers on the student’s work helps as a source of encouragement for students.
Newsletters – Class Newsletters are an excellent way of communicating all the happenings at school and in the specific class, including but not limited to major events, activities, what the class is currently learning, and celebrations. Traditional hard copies may be replaced by soft copies. Teachers may prepare the newsletters by using a template. These newsletters should be e-mailed to the parents, who can reply with their feedback.
Involvement of Parents – Involving the parents in practical activities in schools proves to be invaluable in positively impacting their children’s school experience. Some ways in which schools can involve parents include inviting them as volunteers on fieldtrips, providing them opportunities to become classroom helpers for special projects, and inviting them as audience for student presentations.
Use of Technology and Digital Platforms – The rapid progress in technology is a great boon in communication, making it more economical in terms of time and energy. The various platforms are as follows:
Portals and Apps – Various portals and apps are available which not only make parent-teacher communication effective, but also help in building a classroom community to enhance its efficacy. Reminders and messages (including voice messages) can be sent to the whole class and parents as well. Parents are informed about class attendance, the time of boarding the school bus, class activities, and many such things in real time. Other advantages include enabling parents to see the progress reports and portfolios of students on one platform, enabling parents to see all announcements online, and enabling parents to communicate with teachers through e-mail and messages on a single platform.
School Website – A school website is essential as it enables having all tools of communication in a single location with easy accessibility. In the absence of apps, websites can post updates on school and classroom specific announcements such as:
Events and the school calendar
Classroom syllabus and timetables
Current and upcoming curriculum
Important and useful information and tips about learning, education, and related areas
Accolades and awards for students
Frequently asked questions and their answers
Besides these updates, the website should include sections for feedback from parents through forms, surveys, and virtual suggestion boxes, all of which will promote two-way communication.
Social Media – It becomes simple for all parties to stay on the same page by using social media like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for communication. Social media accounts can be set up by schools for parents to follow. An administrator should be assigned to manage the accounts to check and post updates and responses on time. Teachers, parents, and even students stay updated on the happenings at school and at home. They allow for effective and quick communication. Do refrain from publicly posting specific student related information or pictures without obtaining parent consent.
These strategies can be used by schools to build a relationship of trust and respect with the parent community, which is essential in providing a support system to the students in thriving and succeeding in school.
Founder & Consultant - School Serv
Vinod Kakumanu heads a team of school services professionals and is an independent commentator on Indian school education scenario. Vinod has assisted school promoters establish 35+ schools besides providing ancillary services to over 1000 schools across India. He envisions a future where quality education is made available to every child of the country. The focus he places on the quality of the deliverables and customer satisfaction has made him renowned in the field of K-12 school education.