Research has shown that communication between a parent and a school is one of the key indicators to a child’s success at school. If there is not fluid communication between the two parties then key information is not passed on and both parties can feel a lack of support and/or mis understanding.
I was recently interviewed about my views on communication and if you have any more questions please do not hesitate to ask:
Q: I am having difficulty with communicating with my child’s school. Can you give me some tips on the best way to do this?
A: Of course. Communication between parents and the school is one of the most important communication lines in the school context. It needs to remain open and welcoming throughout the child’s education so that all parties are aware of each others needs, expectations and hopes.
So what can you do to ensure the communication remains positive and helpful?
- Communicate early – Whenever any issue arises that you think needs to be brought to the attention on the school do it early. The sooner they know about the issue, the sooner they can help your child. We cannot expect schools to be able to read our child’s body language so by you communicating to them via a short note, they can act.
- Forms of communication – Written communication is a great place to start any communication, as we do not always time to go and visit the school in person. Outlining your concerns via email or a written note can get the ball rolling on any issue at hand. If the issue is one that needs more elaboration I would highly recommend scheduling in a face to face meeting or if that is not possible over the phone or something like skype. Talking to someone about big issues face to face (in person or computer) really gets the message across in a more amicable way. If we only write about our problems words can be misread or details missed so try to make the effort to discuss in person.
- Active listening: When you are communicating with the school on any particular issue that concerns you, make sure you are actively listening. Don’t just listen to the answers you want to hear. Listen to the teacher/principal without thinking about what you are going to say next. Try to understand where they are coming from so you can respond according to their response.
- Read the newsletter. Every school would publish a newsletter at least weekly or fortnightly. Take the time to sit down and read it. Ask your children questions about items that come up in the newsletter and show an interest in what is going on. By knowing what the school is telling you, you are in a more informed position.
- Trust the class teacher. If you have any concerns please talk to your child’s class teacher/preferred subject teacher or year coordinator first. They see your child the most often and know your child. Taking an issue straight to the principal is not always helpful (unless it is one that cannot be spoken to with the teacher) and can make the classroom teacher feel like you do not trust them if it is an issue that could have been dealt with by them.
(If you feel you need the principal’s support because it is a bigger issue or one the teacher has not dealt with after bringing it to his or her attention then organise a three way interview.)
- Join in with school life. Try to be involved in at least one school activity. This will allow you to mix in with other parents, talk to the teachers in a more social way and see how the school runs in a different context than just the learning classroom environment.
I hope those 6 tips are helpful in you becoming a better communicator in you child’s school. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you need any further assistance!