|Parents and Learning (IAE - IBE, 2000, 36 p.)|
Children benefit from communication between their parents and their teachers that flows in both directions.
Students do best when parents and teachers understand each others expectations and stay in touch with one another regarding the childs learning habits, attitudes toward school, social interactions and academic progress. The school, through the leadership of its administration and the schools policies and programmes, can create an atmosphere conducive to communication and provide convenient opportunities for communication. Teachers are most inclined to initiate communication with parents when they perceive that administrators value such communication, their colleagues are supportive of parental involvement, and the parents seem appreciative of the outreach. Communication between the school and the home is most effective when it flows in both directions, and schools should distinguish between efforts to inform parents and opportunities to communicate with parents.
The following examples of school/home communication provide convenient and effective communication between parents and school personnel.
Prepare an agenda for parent/teacher/student conferences that encourages the participation of all three parties. Let parents know the agenda in advance of the conference. Include such questions as: How would the parents describe the childs study habits at home? Does the child read at home?
Report cards are typically used by teachers to inform parents about the childs progress in school. But report cards can become two-way by including the parents report of the childs progress at home with such school-related topics as: willingness to do homework; reading for pleasure; moderation of televiewing; and attitude toward learning. The cards might also encourage parents to note specific concerns or request conferences.
Many schools publish newsletters. To encourage two-way communication, ask parents to write articles for the newsletter. What tips can parents give for helping kids with homework? What family activities would parents like to share? Has the family visited a museum, historical site or other place of educational value?
Print pads of Happy-Grams for teachers to send notes to parents complimenting students for specific achievements and behaviours. Because teachers also appreciate notes of kindness, distribute pads of Happy-Grams to parents. Print blank Happy-Grams forms in the newsletter. Parents can clip the forms from the newsletter and send notes to teachers.
OPEN DOOR PARENT/TEACHER CONFERENCES
Designate a certain time when teachers are available for walk-in conferences. Some schools set aside thirty minutes before school each morning (or on certain days of the week) when all teachers are available to parents.
PARENT BULLETIN BOARD
Place a bulletin board, especially for parents, at the main entry to the school. Parents can conveniently check the board for notes about parent meetings, suggestions for helping children with homework, notices about family activities and calendars of important events.
HOME LINKS FROM THE CLASSROOM
Parents like to know what their child is learning at school. A weekly take-home that lists a few topics covered at school that week is helpful. The take-home may also include examples of parent/child activities that would be related to what is being learned at school.
A notebook in which students record each days assignments (and perhaps also keep track of the marks they earn) is helpful in keeping students on track. When parents are asked to view, date and initial the notebook and the teacher routinely examines the notebook, a good student/teacher/parent communication link is established.
References: Epstein (1987); Epstein & Dauber (1991); Hauser-Cram (1983); Swap (1993).