Studies show that Family involvement is one of the best indicators of student success, but getting every Family involved isn’t quite as simple as it sounds. Lucky for you, we’ve got a few tips to building relationships with families in schools to help you get started in making those families your education partners.
- Building relationships with families in schools means better student behavior and more help for your classroom
- Families are your best source of information about their students so send that Family survey!
- Family support can transform your school and take some of the burden off educators
- Getting families involved doesn’t have to be time-consuming
- Tip #1: Communicate early and often
- Tip #2: Use a tech tool that allows multiple communication options with a low time investment
- Tip #3: Let families know what you are learning about in your classroom
- Tip #4: A Family who feels welcome is more likely to be involved
- Getting families involved takes a little bit of time, but will make your school year MUCH easier
Why Building Relationships With Families in Schools Is Key
There are many reasons to invite families into your classroom as stakeholders in their child’s education. Let’s start with the simple fact that families know their children better than anyone.
Behavior issues decrease with Family involvement
Involved families can help your classroom in multiple ways. The most important of these is that a child with an active Family will behave much differently than one with a Family who isn’t. Why? That child knows that if they act up in class, you will reach out to their Family to let them know. Most kids are not going to want to explain to their Family why they were disrespectful in class.
Student achievement increases with Family involvement
Families are your BEST source of information about their child. They know their strengths and weaknesses and what might trigger them. A great way to learn about students while building relationships with families is through a student survey or conversations at Meet the Teacher Night. Being asked about their child makes them feel like you care and gets them involved while helping you to learn more about that child.
School success increases with Family involvement
Involved families will show up to your class events and are more likely to contribute when they can. That could look like refreshments for the class celebration or volunteering time to help you decorate for the class play. Those possibilities are endless, but it’s clear that having involved families can make your life easier.
You know those fundraisers that we teachers all love so much? Involved families can be a HUGE asset in making these successful. Let’s say you’re selling items from a catalog. That involved family may not only share it on their social media, but they are also taking that order sheet to their jobs and sharing it with their local friends too. They are putting in the effort to help their child be successful in helping your school raise the funds it needs to succeed.
An involved Family might also volunteer for the PTA or PTO and take an hour or two each week to do things at your school, which lightens the load on educators. Families want what is best for their child and bringing that energy into your school can be transformative.
6 Ways to Get Families Involved in the Classroom
Getting families involved doesn’t have to be the most difficult thing you do this school year. It really comes down to making an effort to include them and make them feel welcome.
#1 Reach out to families and welcome them to your classroom community
The first time you reach out to a Family should be to welcome them and their child to your classroom community. This might be the most important thing you do all year.
Pro Tip: Welcoming families shows them that you want to include them in your classroom community and that you value them. Make sure this communication can reach them in their native language.
A great way to welcome families is using ClassTag announcements, and we even have a template to help you write your welcome message.
#2 Send out a Family survey about students
Having families fill out a survey about their child helps you to get to know the kids better and shows the Family that you care. There are so many questions you could use on your Family survey, and those questions will likely vary depending on the age you teach. Some great ones to start with are:
- What are your child’s strengths?
- What motivates your child?
- What frustrates (upsets) your child?
- What is your child interested in?
- What types of activities does your child enjoy?
#3 Share student success with families once the year starts
As I said before, starting with positive communications is crucial to success in building relationships with families. A fantastic way to go about this is to make a point to contact every Family in the first month of school to tell them something positive about their child. There are so many ways to do this, and most just take a minute:
- Put a note in the student’s folder celebrating their success
- Send a quick message to families electronically
- Call home with the student there with you
- Share a photo from their learning in class
Pro Tip: Families love to hear about their child’s success and taking the time to share that shows that you are invested in that child too.
#4 Send out a weekly communication about what students are learning
One of my favorite things as a Family is getting the weekly agenda of what my kids are learning about in class. Knowing what they are learning about helps me to make sure they are working on those spelling words and that we can connect things at home to their learning at school and show how it applies in the world. It also helps with starting conversations with my kids when they come home from school and tell me that they learned “nothing” all day. 😂
#5 Celebrate success with a monthly newsletter
Another great way to share the positive is to create a monthly newsletter of all the great things your students accomplished. The newsletter not only celebrates student’s accomplishments, it also shows families the progress happening with their learning. You can also use the newsletter to let families know about upcoming events.
#6 Share photos of the learning (and fun) taking place
Sharing pictures is another easy way to document the learning happening in your classroom while letting families join in the fun. If you are sharing these in a class community space you will want to make sure you have the Family’s written permission.
ClassTag makes sharing photos (or videos) super simple and you have options of only sharing with specific people, or everyone in the class.
Family involvement can help you to create a thriving classroom of learners as well as a support system to help when you need it. It takes a little bit of time to get started, but is well worth it as the year goes on.
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