Helping Families and Teachers Work Together
A strong home/school partnership is key to a successful educational experience. Our children are the ones who will mold the future, so we need to help them to have the best possible chance to do this. You hear all about how to take care of the pregnant mom so that the baby will develop into a healthy child, but what about the development of a healthy, happy and successful future through forming a viable partnership between a child’s school and home environment? This too is extremely important for his or her future.
10 Strategies to Use
Here are 10 strategies for developing a successful and viable home school partnership to ensure each child has a chance at the success he or she deserves:
1. Communication is Vital
One of the most important things to foster is an open and continuing line of communication between parents, teachers and administrators at your school. You can do this by sending out a welcome letter to the parents about a week or so before the school year begins. This letter can have in it all the important details such as the child’s teacher’s name (s), school contact information, school polices and regulations, and the curriculum appropriate for the grade the child is entering. The letter is merely the first of many venues for continuing communication throughout the upcoming school season. You must also do things such as parent/teacher orientation sessions, or send home a survey the parents can fill out and note any concerns they have with the school or their child’s education, ask the parents things about the child such as what their hobbies are or what they like or dislike about school, or similar contact methods. This type of activity will strengthen the home school partnership.
You can also send home notes to parents for more than just if the child gets into trouble. Send home a note if the child did well that day or for whatever reason had a really good day or event at school that is significant to report. This builds trust and makes the parents aware of the good, along with any troubles their child is having at school.
2. Start a School Newsletter
A great way to foster a relationship between home and school is through the use of a monthly school newsletter or newspaper. This way the parents can be informed of what the classes at school are doing, or perhaps things about the PTA, or how the school’s budget is parceled out or any important upcoming events or other issues. It can list things like homework assignments, special events, vacation days, school lunch menus, etc.
3. Parent Volunteers in the Classroom
Another great way to get the connection going between school and home is to institute a policy where parents can volunteer in the classroom. They can do things like share their jobs, help with class work, read books, go on field trips, or any number of things. The important factor is to get them in the classroom and involved in their child’s lives instead of just sending them off to class and not knowing what is going on or how to get involved and help their child be more successful.
4. Respond to parent’s letters, emails, etc quickly
If a teacher gets any sort of correspondence from a parent, one of the best things they can do to foster good relationships is to answer it quickly and responsively. Be sure to take the information seriously and find a way to address any concerns the parent is expressing. If they are informing you of something of a serious nature, it is vital to find a solution fast and nip any problems in the bud. Before you know it, you may even get a few thank you emails or letters because this keeps communication going and helps to prevent misunderstandings or other problems.
5. Parent/Teacher Conferences
Parent/teacher conferences are another vital way to get face to face input from parents by discussing the things that their child is working on this year, their strengths or weaknesses, how they are doing, and ask for input and suggestions from the parents. It’s a great time to also mention the possibility of them doing volunteer work if they desire. Even in today’s world with instant communication options like email, face to face is vital to be able to read emotions and foster better understanding.
6. Start an interactive school website
In today’s Internet centric world, we are all used to using things like the Internet to get what we need or desire. If your school creates a school webpage, or even better a classroom webpage, then parents will have a great way to see what is going on in the school. It can have articles on what is going on at the school, and work like a video school newspaper with school calendar, lunch menus, upcoming events, etc. If there is a concern for privacy, the website can be made accessible via only parents who are given a special password to logon to the classroom areas of the school website with only neutral areas open to visitors or potential school parents who have yet to enroll their child into the school.
7. Help with the Home Environment
Part of making sure that a child is successful at school is ensuring the same success at home. Another way to involve a relationship between your school and the parents is to give parents tips on home conditions that foster good learning environments for their children. To do this, the school can do things such as provide workshops for parents on things like nutrition, parenting skills for each grade level, appropriate health topics (i.e. head lice, sexually transmitted diseases, drug abuse, etc), or even meetings with parents seeking more involved help with their child or referral to professional programs if needed such as welfare, family services, medical, or law enforcement. This is a vital step in creating a valuable home school partnership.
8. Foster Learning Goals at Home
The goal here is to give parents and students the tools to be successful in getting things done like homework assignments so they actually internalize the learning process and understand their school classes instead of just attending them aimlessly. Discussions can be done on how to help the child with homework, how to help the child improve their skills in the classroom, things parents can do at home to foster learning experiences, or similar practices. These are all great home school partnership opportunities that will help your child.
Age appropriate discussions on things like college planning or career planning for the high school age students is also very helpful. All of the above fosters good learning experiences because the students and parents alike know that everyone is on the same piece of music for wanting the students to succeed.
9. Keeping parents in the loop
Good parents want to know what is going on in the school and in their children’s education and school lives. It’s vital to foster this by including parents in what is going on in the school and get them out to things like school board meetings or elections for new school board members, PTA meetings or other such events. They can also be encouraged to get involved in school advisory boards, parent leadership committee, sports volunteers as coaches, etc.
All of these things make a parent feel more of a part of their child’s education process. They are informed, so they are more secure in the knowledge of how things are going at the school because they feel they have more of a say in how the school is operated. This type of home school partnership is vital to a child's success and wellbeing.
10. Getting the Whole Community Involved in Area Schools
It’s also vital to get more than just the parents in the area involved, you need to also have the rest of the community involved. As the saying goes, it takes a village to raise a child. That is true and it means that even if you don’t have kids in school, you can get involved in helping support the education of children in your area so they get the best and most rounded educational experience possible.
This can be done through the home school partnership of the schools with businesses, or even with local organizations. A great example of this is that military members have had a program for several years where they volunteer in the school system and help the kids with various projects, tutoring, homework, etc.
The bottom line is that we can’t just sit back and ignore the future of our children because they are the world to come and that makes investing in their education vital to everyone. Home school partnerships will give children an extra edge in their education.