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Parent-Teacher Communication: Strategies for Effective Parent Inclusion & Engagement

Mother and daughter attend parent-teacher conference.

Many elements contribute to whether or not students embrace their educational experience. Family support, equitable access to education, organized leadership, committed educators, and attainable educational goals play a significant role in every student’s academic success.

Studies continue to show that parent involvement is one important factor in helping students engage in their learning, and parent-teacher communication is a key aspect of promoting parent involvement.

What Is Parent-Teacher Communication?

Parent-teacher communication begins at the start of a school year and lasts until students move onto the next grade. Teachers and parents will make introductions and gradually establish a relationship based on what they have in common: the student. Parent-teacher communication can take place in person, typically through parent-teacher conferences or during student drop-off or pick-up times. Teachers can also reach out to parents on the phone or by email.

Through regular communication with parents, teachers can share information about a student’s good work and achievements. If a student begins to struggle with a certain subject or exhibits behavioral problems, the parent will already have a relationship with the teacher, which helps facilitate parent-teacher collaboration. This cooperative relationship empowers parents to step in and support the student at home, supplementing what the teacher is doing at school.

Benefits of Parent-Teacher Communication

When conversations are flowing, students can see that teachers and parents have their best interests at heart. Effective communication helps establish a relationship of respect between teachers, parents, and students.

Benefits for Students

Parents who are more involved in their child’s education can help improve academic achievement, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. When parents take an interest in school activities, students are given an additional level of accountability.

When parents communicate with teachers to discover their childrens’ needs, students see that their family is looking out for them and wants them to be successful. Parents who assist children with homework and remind them to study for tests can increase their chances of short-term and long-term success by helping them develop important habits. Parents can also support children and help boost their confidence by encouraging them when they do well in school.

Benefits for Parents

Effective parent-teacher communication can also benefit parents. Since parents are not always directly involved in the classroom, regular conversations with teachers can help them understand which subject areas their children are doing well in, and which ones they are struggling with. It can also help them feel valued and more confident in engaging in the learning process. Parents who want to be involved can develop a greater role in their child’s education by supplementing lessons at home and explaining complicated homework problems.

Benefits for Teachers

Teachers also benefit from parent-teacher communication, as parents can serve as a valuable asset in the learning environment. Teachers who cultivate relationships with parents will gain added cooperation, as parents are more likely to work with and reach out to teachers they trust. When parents help their children with homework and behavior at home, teachers can focus on instruction in the classroom. Teachers may also see higher rates of homework completion and better grades when parents are involved.

Communication Strategies

Parent-teacher communication can look different for different teachers and parents. Some relationships may be more difficult to establish than others, but there are a number of communication strategies that can help teachers and parents increase engagement in various situations.

Discovering the best methods of communication and formulating messaging plans early in the year is important, as is maintaining consistent communication throughout the year. Teachers shouldn’t be afraid to be persistent in establishing relationships with parents, and vice versa. Teachers and parents can try the following tactics for improving parent-teacher communication:

  • Regular in-person communication: This type of communication works great for parents who typically drop off and pick up their children from school.
  • Parent-teacher conferences: This type of communication is less consistent, but parents and teachers can schedule meetings to discuss a student’s work and future goals.
  • Phone calls and emails: Parents with busy work or personal schedules may not have the opportunity to go to school or schedule conferences. These parents may be easier to reach on the phone or via email. Teachers can also use phone calls and emails to regularly communicate with parents between conferences.
  • Text messages. Some teachers use mass text messages or special messaging apps to communicate with parents. A number of text services cater specifically to teachers, such as Remind.
  • Open houses: Most schools host annual open houses where parents can visit their childrens’ classrooms. This allows teachers to meet parents for the first time or to meet a second parent who may not be in regular communication.
  • Parent-teacher associations: Parents and teachers can establish ongoing relationships through board meetings or PTA meetings in which they help make decisions for the school.
  • Homework handouts and newsletters: Teachers can create handouts for students to take home with them containing information about homework and other tasks. Teachers can also write weekly or monthly newsletters to let parents know what is going on in the classroom and how they can participate.
  • Class websites: Teachers can create websites for their classes to post announcements, homework, and reminders. This helps ensure that assignments don’t get lost in communication between the classroom and home. Other similar methods of communication include social media sites or learning management platforms such as ClassDojo.

Pursue a Career in Education

Current teachers and prospective teachers can help fuel student success rates by learning the benefits of parent-teacher communication early on in their careers. When teachers encourage parents to get involved in the classroom and at home, students can excel in their academic endeavors. Teachers and school administrators who are interested in advancing their careers and developing important communication skills can start by earning an advanced degree in the field, such as through American University’s Online Master of Arts in Teaching program.

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