Building relationships is at the center of what we do. We work hard to build relationships with our students, but we should also be focused on building relationships with our students’ parents.
There are so many benefits of connecting with families. First of all, parents can help shed light on what your students are like outside of school. Getting to know your parents can also arm you with a vast support system. For example, parents at my school help me prepare for art shows and fund special art projects. Finally, when you build relationships with parents, they will talk about your amazing art program with others in your community, advocating for your program when you aren’t even there! Let’s look at some different ways you can better connect with your students’ families.
Here are five ways to build better relationships with parents in your school!
1. Make positive phone calls home.
Normally, parents expect a call from school to be something negative. A positive phone call can be a powerful tool. This is especially true because phone calls are so rare with all the other technology we use today.
Taking time to make a positive phone call can go a long way in building relationships with parents. Because we see so many students, this isn’t something you can do for everyone. However, I like to make positive phone calls in the following two situations.
The first is for a student who is doing an outstanding job. Parents will love to hear from you. The second is for a student you may think will be a problem down the line. If you can say something kind early on, it will be incredibly helpful. Your call may help the student get in line because the parents are so happy to get a positive call. Or, it will build a positive foundation for when you have to call again and share something less positive about their child’s behavior.
2. Create a visual arts newsletter.
Parents are pulled in so many directions making it difficult to connect with everyone. One way to present yourself to parents is through a visual arts newsletter.
Here are three ways to share a newsletter with your parents.
- Post it on your classroom website or blog.
- Send it in an email.
- Send a hard-copy newsletter home.
The newsletter can share your mission, upcoming projects, events, donation needs, student spotlight, and so much more. The possibilities are endless. Parents will appreciate you taking the extra step to make them aware of what is happening in your classroom.
You can use a variety of online programs such as Smore or Mail Chimp. Alternatively, you can find a template in Microsoft Publisher or Google Docs to make an eye-catching newsletter. You could even keep it simple and have it sent in an email. If you have the funds, printing a hard copy of your newsletter can work as well.
3. Participate in school events.
School events are a great time to let your students and their parents see you in a different atmosphere. I know life gets busy, but taking the time to go to a couple of school events allows you to get to know parents on a deeper level. School events also allow you to see students in a different light outside of your classroom, which is an added bonus. If you have your own school event, be sure to reach out to parents for help.
4. Create a parent survey.
Show your students’ parents you care by having them fill out a parent survey.
The survey can include a wide range of questions but make sure to keep it short and sweet.
Here are a few ideas:
- What does your child like to do in his or her spare time?
- What makes your child happy?
- Is there anything that upsets your child?
- Would you like to volunteer? If so, in what capacity?
- Is there anything, in particular, I should know to better serve you and your child?
Leaving a spot for free-response comments will give you valuable information. Try Survey Monkey or a Google Form to make a digital survey easily sent via email.
5. Create volunteer opportunities for parents.
Whether you have an upcoming art show, art-related school event, or just need some help with classroom tasks, don’t underestimate the power of parents. I like to send out emails to parents as volunteer opportunities arise. Don’t forget; you can also ask parents to volunteer in a newsletter or a parent survey.
As you advocate for your art program, this is a great way to create buy-in from your school community and make them aware of the inner workings of the art room. As they see all the work that goes into your field, they are more apt to advocate for your art program as well.
Overall, it is important to do what is best for our students, and an important step is building relationships with their parents and guardians. Knowing more about students’ personal lives will provide valuable information and help you be a better teacher.
How do you build relationships with parents?
What volunteer opportunities do you have parents help with?
Magazine articles and podcasts are opinions of professional education contributors and do not necessarily represent the position of the Art of Education University (AOEU) or its academic offerings. Contributors use terms in the way they are most often talked about in the scope of their educational experiences.