Most teachers would agree that there is no such thing as too much communication. There are more ways than ever for teachers and schools to connect with parents. The growth of technology has made communication easier, with the COVID-19 pandemic requiring a shift to distance communication by educators and parents while the public health situation sorts itself out.
Teachers and parents often connect through open houses, conferences and home visits, with video communication technologies like Zoom, Skype and FaceTime enabling virtual versions of the same.
In the physical classroom model, traveling folders with written announcements that students must get a parent or guardian to sign are effective methods — as are action planners, newsletters, datebooks and calendars. Digital versions of some of these methods are also gaining traction. Some teachers create packets with tips for parents. Schools have found success offering literacy sessions for parents who speak English as a second language. In-person methods include volunteering in the library or classroom, giving parents a chance to help out in schools.
Emails and email lists can help support traditional methods. Some schools have online gradebooks or use apps like ClassDojo. Most schools have websites, and many classes now have their own websites too. Other options include social media, parent chatrooms and online bulletin boards.
Veteran educators stress that persistence is the most important element of communication. It may take some time for parents to learn how to get involved due to busy work schedules, language barriers, bad past experiences and many other factors. New teachers should not worry that they are reaching out to parents too much. It takes time to establish rapport.
Learning Outside of the Classroom
A PBS article reminds us that parents are their children's first teachers. When children reach elementary school, the role of parents usually changes from teacher to learning coach. However, school shutdowns due to the coronavirus pandemic required a shift to fully online instruction, forcing parents to be heavily involved in teaching their children.
Outside of both brick-and-mortar and virtual classrooms, reading provides one of the easiest and most enjoyable avenues for parents to encourage learning. Letting children pick out their own books allows them to take ownership of their learning and encourages them to enjoy reading.
Children are typically read to until they can handle chapter books on their own. Those still learning can take turns reading aloud with their parents who can also form a mini book club with older children to read and discuss the same books.
Become a Leader in Early Childhood Education
Eastern Washington University's fully online Master of Education – Early Childhood Education program makes it possible for even the busiest professionals to advance their careers with more education. Courses like Family Engagement, Systems and Theory analyze the cultural context of the relationship between families and education systems and prepare you to guide student development in collaborative ways for children in grades P-3.
The curriculum of EWU's Master of Education in Early Childhood Education aligns with Washington state's objectives for early learning, which include partnering with families to "ensure that every child is healthy, capable and confident in school and life."
Learn more about EWU's online M.Ed. in Early Childhood Education program.
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