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6 Tips for Communicating with Parents

Amy Sheppard  |  July 09, 2021
Communicating with parents can be intimidating to new teachers and veteran teachers alike. I was no exception to that. But after having been a teacher for a while, I learned some of the ins and outs of communicating with parents.

From my experience, there are three main types of parent communications. The first type is positive communications, like sending emails, texts, or phone calls home about good things. The second type is when you have to let a parent know about a concern or issue you’re seeing. And the third, and probably the hardest one, is handling communications coming from parents that are upset.

While there isn’t necessarily a template for these communications, I do think you develop your own style for dealing with different situations. I am personally aversive to confrontation, but other people are extremely direct and prefer to face things head on. It’s not so much as a template as it is an approach that feels right for you. There is a way to communicate that will feel more natural to you that will make you come across more genuine and authentic.

Here are some tips I’ve learned along the way:
  1. Be proactive.
I like to send one weekly email with an outline of the week that includes upcoming dates and important information. Not all parents will review the email, but I believe it’s important to give them a place to look for information when they have questions. I find proactive communications to be the easiest, and I tend to provide more communication up front. This gives parents a heads up for what their kids are responsible for.

Being proactive also comes in handy when communicating about a change you notice in a student. Don’t wait until a student is really struggling to reach out. Read more about being proactive with positive communications here.
  1. Build trust with parents.
It’s important to build trust with parents and nurture that relationship. If there comes a time when a student is struggling or having behavior issues, it won’t feel like you’re targeting their child if you’ve built that relationship and shown that you care about their child.
  1. Make time for parents to chat.
Parents will appreciate having an opportunity to talk things through with you if they want to. I’ve extended parent teacher conference times before when it was needed. Parents will sometimes share about what’s going on in the
  1. Be honest and kind – that’s the most important.
Parents generally know their kids and when they aren’t doing what they need to do. This isn’t always the case, but I find it to be true most times. It’s important to address it in a kind way because there’s no way to always know what’s going on at home.
  1. Don’t make assumptions.
Again, you never know what’s going on in a student’s home life. If you don’t know the situation, the best thing you can do is to show concern.

I’ve had students lose housing and are sleeping on the floor. We don’t always know about these things, so I try my best to never assume, even when all my buttons are pushed. You can let the parents know you’re concerned or that you’ve noticed a change in their child. You can also ask if there is anything you can do to help or if there is a time they’d like to meet to chat about how to best support their student.

 This helps build relationships. Keep in mind that you’re not going to be able to get all students to come and participate. Unfortunately, it’s not like the movies where a struggling student all of a sudden starts caring and turns everything around. The best you can do is extend an offer to support them and make it known that you want to help. Sometimes they will take it and sometimes they won’t. Offering assistance goes a long way.
  1. Practice compassion.
With the understanding that students might be going through more than you know and that they don’t always know how to handle complex feelings, practice compassion. Sending an email to a parent hammering a student won’t get you very far. Offer kindness and understanding, and show that you’re on their side. Sometimes parents are equally frustrated, so it’s important to show that you have an alliance and that you have their child’s best interest in mind.