Communicating with parents and families is always easier when you've built a relationship with those families. This can be really hard if you rarely. See them - whether you have student who ride the bus to and from school every day, or you aren't the teacher in charge when your students are dropped off or picked up, there are a million reasons that you might not get as much time with parents as you would like.
You can still build relationships with families that will make them feel like they are involved in the activities and events that take place in the classroom. Here are some ideas:
Invite parents to participate. They may not be able to take off work to come in and do activities, but that doesn't mean they can share photos from home, favorite stories, or snacks. Parents might also be able to donate materials and supplies, and if they do, be sure to send them pictures of the children using these materials.
Share photos. Parents love to know what their children are doing all day, and children aren't known for sharing daily events. Use a site like smilebox to create easy slideshows that you can share with all of your families at once.
Ask for photos. Children love to show off their families so choose a theme like family photos, vacation photos, or holiday photos and let each family share the ones that are important to them. It's a great way to share family stories and give children the opportunity to see how different families do different things.
Send home notes. Parents are always happy to hear about the great things that their children do, send home happy notes to let them in on what you see all day.
Plan family events. One year my entire class took an evening trip to the zoo, yes I used my own time, but I built relationships with those families that I never would have without that trip. The parents appreciated the opportunity to meet their children's friends, and all of their parents, and they loved that it was in the evening. I had 100% participation and the children talked about it for weeks.
Share a little about yourself. Write a welcome letter or include a tidbit in each month's newsletter, these little facts about yourself help remind parents that you are just like the
M, and give them things to start conversations about.
Take interest in the things that are happening in their lives. Is one of your parents expecting a new baby? Send home a book they can read with their older child on the subject. Did one of your families just move into a new home? Send a housewarming card. These thoughtful touches will warm their hearts and remind them that you get to know your students on a personal level.
All of these ideas will help build a relationship with parents and family members, and if you do have to have more difficult conversations throughout the year they will be easier because parents will have an understanding that you are on their team when it comes to their child's future.