Honesty and transparency with parents are key to running an effective school. But good communication doesn’t happen automatically. The responsibility for maintaining an open, honest dialogue with your students’ parents rests on your school. Effective communication with parents starts even before school begins and continues throughout the school year. It’s vital for maintaining a good relationship with your parents, supporting the students, and helping new parents get used to the Montessori way of teaching.
Start Before School Begins
There are several ways you can get in touch with parents before school starts. You’ll need to decide which ones work best for your school. One great idea is to schedule an open house before the first day of school so parents and students can get to know teachers a little better.
Not every parent can make it to an open house. So you should also make sure to check-in with each parent individually. Give them a call and/or email welcoming them to a new school year, inviting them to the open house, and letting them know you’re available if they have any questions or feedback.
Navigate The First Week
When you’re giving parents information before school starts, it’s a good idea to let them know there ‘s sometimes a transition period as kids adjust. This is especially true for younger kids that are spending their first significant time away from family. Make sure parents understand that it’s important they’re honest with their kids about where they’re being dropped off so the child isn’t startled or scared.
For children that are having a particularly hard time adjusting to the school, consider scheduling a time during the first day or week for a parent to visit the classroom while their child is there. And even if the child’s first week at school goes perfectly smoothly, be sure you send an update to each family letting them know how their child is doing at the end of the first week.
Keep In Touch
Regular updates are vital to maintaining an effective parent-teacher relationship. Your school needs to stay in close contact with parents for the good of each student. Supportive parents are a huge benefit for children. Because parental support is such a big help, you want to make it as easy as possible for parents to stay involved and up-to-date.
How you send these updates will vary by school. Some schools use email. Others set up a sharing website accessible only to members. There’s also Montessori record keeping and communication software available for school use. Some schools use a hybrid approach, such as making an online calendar available to all parents and then sending weekly individual updates on a child’s progress through email. And if parents pick up and drop off their children at the school, this also provides opportunities for quick check-ins.
Many parents prefer face to face meetings, especially if you need to communicate important information. Anytime there’s a concern or problem, make sure you try to schedule an in-person meeting before using telephone or email to address your concerns.
Even if there isn’t a specific issue to discuss, in-person meetings help maintain good relationships with parents. Such meetings provide an opportunity for two-way dialogue that’s important for developing a good relationship. It’s also a chance for parents to share any concerns they have and ask questions about how their child is doing. Try to schedule at least one or two meetings with each parent during the school year.
Make Yourself Available
Ideally, communication between parents and teachers goes both ways. It’s your responsibility to keep parents updated and communicate information regularly. But you also want parents to feel comfortable contacting your school. Let parents know you’re available and be clear on how to get in touch. You can even offer parents opportunities to observe in the classroom to let them see first-hand how their child is doing and reassure them you have nothing to hide.
Interested in developing a communications policy that works for your school? Holistic Montessori Solutions can help. We’re committed to empowering school leaders with the tools you need to provide the best education possible for your students. Contact us to learn more.