Parent-teacher communication with parents or carers provides an opportunity for you to share with families how their child is progressing at school, learn more about the student and how to support them at school.
They are also opportunities to build a strong partnership with a student’s family to identify strengths and areas where support may be needed, share strategies that have been effective at home or school, and to identify ways in which you can work together to create consistency across home and school.
The following tips can provide a prompt or support for you in preparation for communicating with a student’s parent or carer:
1. Be ready
Write down any areas you specifically want to talk about beforehand, and bring this list to the conversation. Consider any additional arrangements that need to be made so that your discussion goes well.
For example, will it be helpful to have a common language interpreter or Auslan interpreter present? Have you catered for parents or carers who may not feel comfortable meeting on school grounds, such as some Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander parents or carers?
2. Encourage active participation
Communication with parents or carers provides an opportunity for partnership. Sometimes parents or carers may assume more of a listening role when communicating with their child’s teacher.
Providing an outline of what the conversation involves and explicitly outlining it as an opportunity for collaboration may help. Encourage active participation and problem solving through asking parents or carers to share their perspective, concerns and experiences. Remember, a parent or carer knows their child best.
3. Start with the positive
Discuss the student's strengths first. Share with the parent or carer any strengths you feel are relevant, and ask the parent or carer what strengths they have identified.
Access our strengths and abilities communication checklist for a list of some possible strengths. You may complete this together with families.
4. Discuss areas where support may be needed
This is an opportunity for you and the parent or carer to share areas where the student could benefit from support and set goals accordingly. The parent or carer may have identified opportunities for support that you were not aware of, and vice versa.
It may be important to work together to explore what the priorities may be, and to share strategies that may be effective. Strategies that draw on the student’s strengths may be most effective – access our inclusive questions for a guide to drawing on student strengths.
5. Discuss ways in which you can create consistency between home and school
You may wish to discuss ways in which a parent or carer can support their child's education at home, such as setting up a homework routine, or through ongoing communication. Similarly, a parent or carer may have routines or strategies that their child uses at home that you can support them with at school.
Partnering with each other can create consistency and stability for a student. For students from collectivist cultures, such as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, understanding the role the extended family may also play in home life can also help develop shared understanding and opportunities for partnership.
The Inclusive Learning Support hub is another useful tool to assist parents and carers in learning more about how well prepared NSW schools are to support students with disability and additional learning and support needs.