Strategies for Dealing With Parents in and Outside the Classroom

Published On: December 13th, 2023·By ·

Teachers must collaborate and communicate with many groups of people to help their students excel, and one of the most crucial audiences is parents and guardians. By working together, teachers and parents can ensure children are given the support they need to succeed. 

Quality educators understand the vital role communication plays in forging strong relationships with parents and guardians. These successful teachers have strategies for dealing with parents, even the more difficult ones, so their common goal can be achieved: putting students first. 

Building Relationships With Parents

Teachers, parents, and guardians want the same thing: for children to succeed. Multiple studies, including in China, have shown that increased parent involvement raises academic achievement, higher completion of homework, and greater classroom engagement. 

The schools with higher parent involvement have achieved it through teachers successfully building relationships with parents and guardians. Through excellent communication, parents and teachers work in partnership, resulting in:

  • Improved student work habits
  • Reduced behavioral problems
  • Improved social skills
  • Better adaptability
  • Improved students' attitude towards school
  • Improved student mental health

Teachers who fail to nourish positive relationships with parents and guardians are missing a vital opportunity to create positive change in their students' lives, making it harder to succeed in the classroom.

For example, suppose a teacher only contacts parents about negative behavior and never communicates positives. In that case, the teacher risks disempowering parents, fostering distrust in the school, increasing uncooperativeness in students and parents, and further demotivating students.

Strategies to Deal With Parents

Strategies to deal with parents and guardians are varied, and using more than one method is essential. Teachers communicate with people from various cultures, religions, educational backgrounds, and economic circumstances. In addition, not everyone has the same access to transportation and technology or has the same working hours and days off. 

A quality educator should select their parent-teacher communication strategies based on the following:

  • Personality of the teacher
  • Expectations of the school or district
  • Technology available to parents, guardian, school, and teacher
  • Suitability for their community's strengths and challenges

1. Set Up Clear Homework Policies

Teachers need to ensure their homework policies and expectations are clear to parents and students. Questions to answer and details to provide should include:

  • How much time should a child spend on homework on an average day or week? 
  • Is homework to be done independently, supportive, or together? 
  • What kind of environment should be provided at home for a child to do homework? 
  • Do children need access to the internet to do their homework? 
  • How do parents handle homework in an emergency or illness?  
  • How is progress monitored? 
  • How do parents contact you with concerns or comments regarding homework?

2. Ask For Parents' Feedback And Ideas Frequently

Asking parents for feedback helps them feel involved in their child's education. It can also bring new perspectives and ideas to the classroom. However, it is essential to update parents if the suggestion has been used or implemented. Otherwise, parents feel they are talking into a void and that the invitation for feedback was an empty gesture done for show. 

Methods for obtaining feedback include:

  • Invite questions and comments in students' homework books.
  • Having an email account set up for feedback.
  • Setting up meetings in person or via Zoom where parents are invited to share ideas.

3. Suggest Enrichment Activities

Suggest enrichment activities that parents and guardians can do with their kids. Look up inexpensive or free age-appropriate opportunities in your community, including events:

  • Events at the local library.
  • Exhibits at a museum.
  • Events or performances at parks and recreational centers.

Also, have a list of free resources available that can point parents to fun activities that can be done at home, such as science experiments, arts and crafts, and cooking. 

4. Ask Parents About Communication Preferences

Teachers should reach out to parents about their communication preferences at the start of the year. It's also essential to get feedback on how often parents enjoy updates. Sometimes, parents would prefer a once-a-month newsletter rather than a weekly email. 

5. Record Video Updates for Parents 

Recording video updates for parents and guardians can provide a more personalized touch to communication. Seeing your face allows people to hear your tone and read your body language, which can help cut down on misunderstandings. 

Thanks to the rise of video in social media, there are plenty of free, beginner-friendly editing software, including:

  • HitFilm
  • iMovie
  • Lightworks
  • VideoPad

6. Ask Parents to Participate in School Activities

Ask parents and guardians to participate in school activities and provide any other information they might require, such as if they need a background check. Ensure your requests are not just for fundraising activities, such as carwashes. Also, let parents know if there are ways to assist in coaching, reading, or even coming to the school to talk about their work. 

Lastly, parents have skills and talents that might be useful to the classroom, a play, or an event, including:

  • IT or programming 
  • Sewing
  • Writing 
  • Carpentry

7. Consult Parents When Making Decisions 

Teachers empower parents when they consult them about solving certain problems or considering activities. Brainstorming can create unique solutions for:

  • Field trips
  • Classroom activities
  • Fundraising
  • School challenges

Ensure that parents receive feedback on progress so they feel heard and understand that their voices matter.  

8. Creating and Using Communication Channels

Teachers need to create multiple communication channels for parents and guardians. The methods selected should suit the teacher's personality, respect the school policy, and be in tune with the community's needs and challenges. 

Also, provide clear guidelines and boundaries on how these communication channels will be used in advance. It helps parents understand they are not being ignored if they don't receive a reply right away. 

For instance, if using email, let parents know replies will be made within a certain number of hours or days. If parents can contact you by phone, be sure to set boundaries, such as it will only be on between certain hours, and messages received after a specific time will be answered the next day. 

9. Give Parents a Nudge

Researchers have found that simple nudges, such as sending a postcard home, can help improve students' attendance. Reminders about an event or activity can also be sent through text messages or notes. Also, research found that the messages in nudges don't have to be long to be effective. 

10. Make Your Curriculum Transparent 

Teachers should try to provide transparency in the curriculum. It not only helps parents and guardians feel involved, but it can also head off arguments and prevent parents from being surprised or shocked. Furthermore, if a parent knows what is on the curriculum, they can help support their child's learning through related activities, outings, or material at home. 

11. Create an Inclusive Calendar

Teachers can show support for the diversity of their classrooms by creating an inclusive school calendar. Find out the important holidays that your students celebrate with their families and ensure they are included on the calendar. 

The information helps make families feel seen and valued. Additionally, it allows teachers to avoid awkward conflicts, such as scheduling an event when many students will be absent or an activity with food when some students are fasting. 

12. Write a Dedicated Blog

Creating a dedicated teaching blog can allow parents and guardians to glimpse what's happening at school in the classroom and showcase special events and field trips. It's also an opportunity to talk about subjects such as the curriculum, child development, and other educational topics without parents feeling lectured. 

When setting up your blog, you need to consider school policy, accessibility, and expense to yourself or parents. For instance, some blog platforms are free for the teacher but charge parents to access, which might make it useless in low-income communities. Also, some blogging platforms are more likely to be caught in SPAM filters than others. 

Some platforms popular with educators include:

13. Host an Open House Event for the Entire Family

Hosting an open house event is an excellent way for teachers to meet parents, siblings, and other important family and guardians in your students' lives. 

Tips for hosting a successful open house include:

  • Display student work with signs, giving insight into assignments and objectives.
  • Provide handouts with additional information.
  • Prepare any welcome or presentation ahead of time.
  • Greet every person that comes individually and thank them for coming.
  • Have something positive to say about every student.

14. Establish and Use an App for Parents 

Apps can help teachers communicate with parents and guardians. Thankfully, you don't need to be a programmer to create one for your classroom. There are many options out there, including free apps. Consider the features that will suit your community and school policies. For instance, not all apps keep parents' contact details private from each other. 

Some apps that teachers use to communicate with parents effectively include:

  • ClassDojo
  • ClassTag
  • GroupMe
  • Klassly

15. Create Events for Both Parents and Students 

Creating events for parents and students can be an excellent way to help families feel connected to the school and become more involved. Events can be fun or educational, including hosting talks on supporting kids in a particular subject, such as math or reading. 

When scheduling events, consider that people have different schedules and availability, so don't always have them at the same time or day of the week. Also, keep in mind accessibility for older parents and guardians, the disabled, and those who speak other languages. 

How to Deal With Difficult Parents

Parents and guardians can be a wealth of support and help for educators. However, every teacher has stories of difficult parents. 

Some parents get angry over a student's performance. Guardians might object to the lessons or material in the curriculum. Then, some parents don't believe their child's problems, such as being bullied, are being taken seriously.  

 Ignoring or wishing these challenging people away isn't a solution. The parent-teacher relationship is important, and finding a way to connect or defuse the situation makes a teacher's job easier and is best for the child. 

Various techniques are available to help educators handle difficult parents. However, they all require a teacher to stay calm and maintain composure. 

Strategies that can help teachers when dealing with difficult parents include:

  • Clarify if their behavior is toxic, bad, or unconscious. Sometimes, a parent isn't aware of how their behavior is coming across. Find out if they are purposely being difficult or hurtful rather than assume it's intentional. 
  • Set appropriate boundaries and remember to say no. Don't over-explain your boundaries, as it shows a lack of confidence and may encourage a parent to push. Don't get pressured into agreeing to anything you shouldn't. Sometimes, your “no” can be phrased in a way that defuses a situation, such as “Thank you for your idea, but I'll have to discuss it with the principal first.”  
  • Meet them face-to-face to discuss any issues. Meeting face-to-face can help defuse a situation. It can be easy to say hurtful things or rant in an email, but it's often more difficult in person. In-person communication also makes it harder to misinterpret tone. However, if there are concerns about being misquoted later, have a colleague sit in on the conversation to act as a witness and, if needed, a mediator. 
  • Find things and topics you agree on. It's essential to try to keep communication from being completely negative. Always reach out and try to find areas you agree, even if it isn't a school-related topic, as it humanizes each other. Many people with vast differences have bonded over a shared love of a sports team or viewpoint on pineapple on pizza. 
  • Listen carefully and ask the right questions. Parents need to feel heard even if they do not agree with what is being said. Sometimes, just listening can help diffuse the situation. Take notes while asking follow-up questions to gain better clarity on their viewpoint.  
  • Alert the principal or department chair if necessary. Keep the principal or department chair up-to-date on situations where parents are threatening or creating alarming problems. They can help you strategize solutions, and staying in touch lets you cover your back from false allegations.
  • Establish your authority. Taking charge is done by exhibiting confidence through body language. One of the best ways to do this is through eye contact, which displays self-assurance while demonstrating that you are listening and they have your attention. Lowering your voice can also help you keep your words sounding steady and give you an air of confidence.  

How Students Benefit From Teacher-Parent Relationships

The main benefactor of quality parent-teacher communication is students. When parents and teachers work together, they can provide insights that will allow:

  • Better support and strategies to meet a student's needs.
  • Ensure parents and teachers are aware of a student's strengths and weaknesses.
  • Guide future career or university decisions. 
  • Assistance and tools to cope with difficult life situations or stresses. 
  • Raises their academic success. 

When parents and students feel supported by teachers, the impact goes beyond a teacher's career. Parents, guardians, and other family share their experiences with friends, colleagues, and members of their faith. 

Positive perceptions of school raise the willingness of local businesses, parents, and community members to invest in a school district, both financially and with time. 

It Takes a Village to Educate a Child

Parents and guardians play crucial roles in their children's lives. When teachers communicate with parents, they develop valuable partnerships that enhance the support and quality of a child's education. The more parents become involved, the greater support a school receives, helping raise everyone's success. We at SimpleK12 understand that effectively communicating with parents can be challenging. That's why we've designed professional development courses to help teachers learn and master various communication strategies. The more confident a teacher becomes in their communication, the stronger the relationships they can build to better children's future. 

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We offer flexible classes that address the needs of teachers and schools to support today’s classrooms and increase student success

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