‘Parental engagement does not always mean the same thing to parents and schools.’ Martinez and Velazquez, 2000.
Effective communication with parents is essential for building school-family partnerships. In its simplest form, parental involvement may be defined as parents responding to the school. Whilst involvement is important, it is engagement that has the greatest potential for success and wellbeing.
Positive parent-school communications benefits parents, pupils and educators; there is substantial evidence that parental engagement can raise attainment, provide increased motivation for learning, ensure regular attendance and provide positive attitudes about school.
Research shows that when parents and educators share relevant information with each other about a child the better each are equipped to support them.
A range of opportunities for positive communication include:
- Parent conferences / meetings
- Parent teacher organisations or parent forums
- One to one conversations or phone calls
- Emails and SMS messages
- Blogs and website
- Home visits
School communications with parents are more likely to be effective if they are personalised and linked to learning, and framed in a positive manner. Consider opportunities for two-way communication for parents who are less involved, such as face to face conversations, phone calls or text messages, rather than generic emails or letters.
It is important that our communication with parents is effective and to do this we can employ a range of strategies including:
- Timeliness – ensure you make contact as soon as any problem or difficulty has been identified so that a solution can be found.
- Follow up – both parents and educators want to see and trust that they will actually do what they said they would.
- Clarity – ensure your communications are clear and use language that is accessible (don’t use educational speak or jargon).
- Under-promise – don’t make promises in meetings or conversations with parents that can then be difficult to keep or maintain.
Effective communication with parents has grown ever more complex as our society changes and with the advent of technology. It is useful to consider a range of methods to communicate rather than relying upon just one, and adapt it to meet the needs of particular families, this way we are able to reach all homes with any given message
This blog was written by Bretta Townend-Jowitt, Education Consultant and Trainer.
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