The Importance of Parent-Teacher Communication

A child’s educational journey begins the moment he or she is born.  Learning is constantly occurring in every day life events but as soon as a child steps foot into a classroom, this journey really takes off in a more formal way.  In order for this journey to be as successful as possible, the communication between teachers and parents is crucial, particularly regarding a child’s social, emotional, and cognitive development.   This communication should be ongoing with constant feedback on both ends and should follow each child’s own unique experiences and growth.  The Reggio Emilia approach supports various methods of communication to support this overall goal.

What is Good Parent-Teacher Communication?

Good parent-teacher communication should be ongoing and have clear lines of communication from the start.  Continually keeping parents involved provides a community feeling which benefits the child and the school.   Parental expectations are one of the strongest predictors of student achievement, so clear and high expectations should be set from the beginning.

At the start of the school year, teachers should explain how and when they will keep in touch with parents, all while letting parents know their questions and concerns are valued.  Since family dynamics vary, discuss and choose communication tools that work best for particular parents.  Some parents may want all digital communication while others may want only verbal or hand-written communication.

A level of trust between parents and teachers must exist so that open communication can occur.  Teachers should always inform parents of concerns right away, but should also explain strategies that have been used to address any problems and strategies that will be used in the future. When discussing any issues, teachers should make sure to explain ways parents can help at home that will reinforce any learning that is going on in the classroom.  This communication creates parents who are supportive, understanding, and trusting of the teacher and the teacher’s intentions.  When successful communication occurs, parents will become more engaged and involved in class and school wide events.  Strong parent-teacher communication improves academic performance in children and provides a great feeling of community.

At The Compass School, our parent-teacher communication includes portfolios such as, “Go Home” journals, snapshots, lesson plans or ”Forecasts”, and documentation panels.  Let’s take a quick look into what each of these methods involves and how they support each child’s distinct path to discovery.

Portfolios and “Go Home” Journals

Each child has their own portfolio binder, which is a collection of pictures, quotes, artwork, and information regarding developmental milestones.  Older children’s portfolios also include writing samples. These portfolios record each individual child’s growth and development.  Understanding that parents have very busy schedules, the “Go Home” journal is a wonderful resource that allows for ongoing written dialogue between educators and parents.  Teachers will write a paragraph or two about each child every week in the journal and if they choose, parents can take the journal home over the weekend and write back to the teachers.  This is such a wonderful way to strengthen the relationships and shared responsibility in a child’s education.

Snapshots, Forecasts, and Documentation Panels

Snapshots are another method of communication and consist of daily classroom highlights shared over the voicemail system and/or daily e-mails.  These snapshots provide an overview of activities for your child’s class on that given day.  Forecasts are posted on the parent communication board for each classroom and require teachers to document and reflect upon their observations regarding the children’s interests in the classroom. Teachers utilize documentation panels to provide visual evidence of the learning process using photographs, artwork, data, and other samples of work.

Emerging Curriculum

The Compass School emphasizes the curriculum that emerges from each child’s interests and ideas.  Using these various forms of communication between teachers and parents helps to build a strong relationship between the school and the families they serve. The documentation provided by teachers convey the experiences of each child and strengthens the learning that takes place at home, school, and even throughout the community. For more information on the Reggio Emilia approach to learning including additional resources contact The Compass School today!