It is important to make learning meaningful to students by taking into consideration the interests and needs of each student. To truly get a well-rounded scope of who your students are it is critical to understand each student’s family background by getting to know their parents. Here is an action plan to establish and maintain a positive relationship with your students’ families.
- Establish a positive relationship first. Be warm and welcoming upon the first meeting. Family contact is more than a newsletter! Make the initial contact and maintain it. A friendly post before the first day of school or orientation will set a favorable tone.
- Develop a procedure so parents know how sending things home and getting things back works for their child. A homework schedule in a homework folder will show parents what is due. You can post homework due dates on your Bloomz classroom calendar or make an event. Choose "reminder" for the type of event and type the name of your homework assignment in the title. Ideally students will manage homework themselves but at the lower elementary age it is one of the biggest challenges. You might not want to do this for every homework assignment to encourage independence, especially if you have a consistent routine, but if you have special projects that include family involvement adding a calendar reminder for families is essential.
- Establish ways families can help out in the classroom. Field trips, parties, and scheduling parent read-alouds are all made easy on the Bloomz calendar. You can also make a post to invite parents as special guests to share about their career or interests. Ask parents to post links to direct you to literature having to do with their culture.
- Families should be aware of your classroom rules to reinforce what students learn in school. Post a copy of your rules on the newsfeed and keep one located in your documents section. Reposting after the December break is a good idea since this is a time when revisiting the rules is central to behavior management.
- Frequent exchanges of information especially when things are going well establishes rapport and positive feelings. Certificates of achievement, progress reports, and notes on graded work will let parents know their students are doing well.
- Parents come to the teacher/parent relationship with varying needs, skills, and concerns. Be open, flexible, and sensitive. Allowing drop-in visits, observations, and ongoing questions builds trust and understanding. You might schedule an open classroom time on your Bloomz calendar once a month for 30 minutes after school. You will most likely be working in your classroom anyway. Students take pride in showing their parents their desk or cubby. This is a low-pressure and informal way to invite parents in your classroom who might just want to stop by and say hello.
- A parent teacher conference is the formal way to update families. This is made extremely easy to organize with the Bloomz App.
- When concerns arise problem solving can take place with a solid foundation of open communication. Design a written contract that includes general discipline philosophy, specific discipline methods used and when they are used, specific discipline methods not used, a plan for ongoing parent-teacher communication, and any expectations regarding cooperation in an action plan for the child. You should also include what the school will do if behavioral needs exceed the staff capabilities or endangers the health and safety of children. Parents and teachers should sign and keep this contract.
- Adult response to children’s misbehavior depends on a variety of factors. Some of these are the individual’s culture, the adult's experiences of being disciplined as a child, beliefs or attitudes about the meaning of discipline and situational variables such as fatigue/stress level of the adult. Be considerate of all of these variables and discuss your use of the Bloomz behavior system with parents before implementation.
- Provide opportunities for parents to socialize and network with each other. For example, create events in your class such as an ice cream social or potluck. Parents can even schedule playdates with Bloomz!
Initiating and maintaining communication with parents will help teachers facilitate the whole child approach to education because teachers will be addressing the students' needs through the shared responsibility of families, schools, and communities. Bloomz makes it easy to share daily classroom happenings with families. Teachers can share what their class is all about, explain behavior management strategies, homework, daily class schedule, teaching philosophy, and student work by posting from a phone, tablet or computer.
What other tips for Family Engagement do you have? Share them in the comments below...