Building Warm and Cozy Relationships with Parents

No, not YOUR parents. That’s between you and your therapist.

In a Reddit thread dubbed “When Parents Blame You,” one teacher-user commented, “I don’t blame the parents. They are usually super stressed out. [I’ve] had parents go from irate to crying in 20 minutes. As soon as I can identify the underlying fear and address that directly, we can get on the same page and come up with a plan.”

Building strong parent– teacher relationships to avoid encounters like the Reddit user described takes time, opportunity, and intention on both sides. The good news is that in a 2012 NEA/Parenting magazine survey of teachers and parents, 45% of parents gave teachers an A, and a majority described the relationship as “great” and “open.”

A 2012 survey showed that 68% of teachers reported difficulty in dealing with parents; a third said that parents’ lack of understanding of their child’s issues was a challenge.

Those are nice numbers, but the survey also presented a perception problem — 68% of teachers reported difficulty in dealing with parents; a third said that parents’ lack of understanding of their child’s issues was a challenge. So while it may be that parents perceive the relationship as “great,” teachers feel that they may not be reaching them in a way that deepens the parents’ understanding of their child’s academic growth and progress.

Getting Derailed Parent-Teacher Relationships Back on Track
Hello and welcome to the Blame Game, where parents blame teachers and teachers blame parents for low grades…

Here are some tips from Edutopia to help you build and nurture relationships with parents. Some may seem obvious, but when followed consistently, they can help build powerful relationships.

  1. Declare your intention Tell parents that you want to partner with them, that you appreciate their support, and look forward to working together.
  2. Make a positive phone call home If you have a self-contained class, call all homes at regular intervals throughout the year. If you teach many students, identify those students who perhaps need a positive call home.
  3. Lead with the good news Give positive praise first when calling parents or meeting with them to discuss a concern. Every kid has something good about them. Find it. Share it. Then share your concern. Adhere strictly to this rule.
  4. Your language is powerful Learn to ask open-ended questions and understand that sometimes parents/guardians might not want to share some information.
  5. Ask questions about the child Demonstrate an interest in knowing your student by asking:

· Who are the special people in their life?

· What do you think are their best characteristics?

· What are their interests outside of school?

6. Smile at the child When talking to a parent in front of a child, smile and make eye contact with the student to demonstrate that you care about them. Recognize what they have done well in your class in front of the parents. Then share a concern, if you have one.

7. Invite them in especially if it connects the curriculum and content. Let them share with you their cultural traditions, interests, passions, skills, and knowledge.

8. Invite parents to participate in making some decisions Invite input, give them information that will help them form an opinion, and listen to their conclusions.

9. Invite parents to celebrate and break bread together Communities are strengthened when people come together in celebration. Start the year with a potluck or find a reason to have one mid-year. Share food and stories about food. We all bond over food.