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Building Positive Relationships with Parents

Relationships are very important in both our professional and personal lives. Professionally as teachers, we have to have a strong relationship with our co-workers, administrators, students, as well as “our” parents. There are so many reasons as to why this is important which will be revealed in these 9 tips for building positive relationships with parents.

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Tip #1 Flash ‘Em:

One of the easiest ways to break the ice with someone and start to build a positive relationship is to flash them your pearly whites. Greeting someone with a smile instead of your resting teacher face or some other grimace will put parents (or anyone) at ease. We are programed to mimic the facial expressions of the person we are looking at. Therefore, if you smile at a parent, they will hopefully reciprocate that smile and you have already started the conversation in a positive way. If this is the first meeting, you are on your way to building a positive relationship.

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Tip #2 The Secret Ingredient:

We all like to know the secret ingredient someone uses to perfect a recipe. Just like in baking, relationships have a secret ingredient but I’m about to let the secret out: communication. Sounds simple right? When you communicate with a parent several things happen. First, they feel like they are included and in the know. I don’t like not being in the loop and neither do parents. Secondly, it helps them potentially help you. If they know what is going on, they can help you strengthen weak skills and they can help you praise strong skills their student displays. Finally, it saves you from potential miscommunication. I don’t know if you know this, but students don’t like to be in trouble. Therefore, if they can blame you for something, they will because they are kids. Don’t take any offense to this, it’s just the way it is. For all these reasons and more, communication is key to building a strong relationship with parents.

Tip #3 Call Me!:

When we’re in full blown teacher mode, it can be difficult to find time to make something as simple as a phone call. Often times, the phone calls we make are obligatory “your child did _____ today and I just thought you should know.” These phone calls are usually not the pleasant ones to make but they are necessary. To help build positive parent relationships, turn that phone call upside down by making it obligatory to make at least three good parent phone calls a week. You could do it all in one day or you can do it three times a week. Calling just to say, “Hey your child is awesome and I enjoy having him/her,” goes a long way with parents. Making this positive phone call shows you care enough to take time out of your day to call “just because” and not because you “have to.”

Tip #4 You’ve Got the Power:

That’s right you have the power! You have the power to make a parent’s heart sink when you say “I’m sorry to report ________.” You also have the power to make a parent’s heart happy when you exclaim, “Suzy did it! She got to 100 without any help!” This makes such a big impact. You also have the power to point parents in this direction or that so they can better aide their children. As their child’s teacher, you have the power to do so much good and when you exercise that power in a positive way, you help build positive parent relationships.

Tip #5 What’s that you say?:

This tip goes hand in hand with tip number 2, listen. When you listen to what your parents have to say, you are giving them respect. When you respect them, they will respect you and that leads to a positive relationship. Remember just as you have concerns or ideas about their children, they do. Parents may want some information from you so they can better help. Other times, a parent may just need to talk to someone who understands. For example, maybe Johnny is having a problem with lashing out during math or reading time. When his parents try to help him at home, he lashes out at them as well. If you listen, you could see a similar trend and you might be able to deduce that Johnny needs extra help in math or reading. Listening helps you and the parent and it helps build a positive relationship.

Tip #6 Sharing is Caring:

Tip five and six go well together. Not only do you need to listen to parents to help build a positive relationship with them, you also have to invite them into your world. Let’s go back to Johnny. If you see he is lashing out during reading time, you could talk to his parents and ask them what they think would be best. Invite them to share their experiences with Johnny and maybe some of the tactics they have tried to help him. By doing so, you are creating a positive relationship with the parent by showing them you value you what they have to say.

Tip #7 Eureka!:

Let’s be real. The best part of teaching for many of us and seeing that light bulb turn on when we’ve been operating in the dark for longer than we think we should have. When that light bulb turns on and you are throwing an inner and outer party with your student, make sure you share that with his/her parents as well. Share every success your students have with their parents. This can be a phone call, or a premade letter or “post card” home. Either way, you are showing your student you are super proud of them and you are showing their parents the same. This will do two things: one it will motivate your student to work hard and two it will build a positive relationship with your parents.

Tip #8 Who’s that?:

If any of you are like me, I can get into a bad habit of knowing a parent by their child. So at conferences I think things like, “Oh, that’s Sarah’s mom.” Well the fact of the matter is Sarah’s mom has a name and I should probably know it. By knowing parents’ names, it shows you care about who they are just like you care about who their children are. This seems pretty simple and a little “duh” but when our worlds revolve around our students, we kind of forget they have parents sometimes especially when they are calling us mom or dad.

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Tip #9 Welcome!:

Welcome parents to join you for reading time, sharing time, career day, just because day, or any other time. Invite parents into your classroom. This shows that you have nothing to hide for one thing. Another reason it’s so important is it shows you want them to be part of their child’s education. You are telling them they are not stepping on your toes. You are saying, “Hey this is what we do here,” which is very cool thing to do. Parents are used to sitting in the stands. Sit them in the desks right there with the kiddos and show them you want to have a positive relationship with them.

We have so many different types of relationships within our lives and they are all important. While we know this, sometimes we forget the people we work with every day are part of a larger family unit and we need to work on that relationship too. Building relationships with parents has so many benefits and the latter are just a few. This year, try to implement one or two ideas to help build positive relationships with your students’ parents; I promise it will have amazing results.

Do you have tried and true tips and experience in building positive relationships with your parents?  Share them below because as a community, we are stronger when we collaborate!  I look forward to reading them!

Gearing Up for Back to School?  Check out these other articles:

Back to School Resource Round-Up

9 Ways to Have a Pinterest Worthy Classroom on a Budget

Until Next Time, Happy Teaching!

Farrah

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