Even though the pandemic disrupted the education segment severely it also fast-tracked the adoption of technology in teaching and learning. Digitally-driven classrooms are gearing up for changes as schools are now gradually reopening and the need to include parents in every conversation has become more imperative now than ever.
Why Home-School Communication?
Even though schools will reopen in a phased manner with precautions, managing apprehensive parents who are dubious about sending their children to school is going to be a challenging task,among many others, for school authorities. Communication becomes the key to tackle this issue.
Effective communication between home and school is critical for student achievement. Achieving the perfect sync between communication channels and the school’s goals and values of education is the foundation of successful home-school partnership.
Here are 3 ways in which educators can ace home-school communication:
1. Establish Clear Expectations
The majority of challenges with parents can be diminished by setting up clear expectations initially. State the do’s and don’t of communication clearly - what parents can expect from you, the modes you will use to communicate with them, what you expect from them, and what you expect from the students - to avoid confusion. Stick to a schedule to send out your communications so that families know when to look out for these. Establish a process for follow-ups such as first email, then sms, then a phone call. Make it a point to be responsive, forthcoming, and prompt in your communications. Furthermore, adapt to new situations quickly to continue the effective engagement. Remember, if you are a model of prompt, clear, and good communication, the families will follow suit.
2. Simplify Communication
Parents in any given school generally tend to have various levels of education. So, schools need to ensure that the communication should be carried out in an easy-to-understand manner. And, schools also need to realise that one size may not fit all. They may need to use several different methods to reach all families. Teachers need to be observant and notice if all parents are noting and responding to the messages shared. Simplified written communication can help to avoid misunderstandings. Communication might sometimes need to be done in local vernacular languages as well to reach all parents. Check with your school management about adopting this measure.
3. Encourage Engagement of Parents
How involved do you want parents to be? This is a very debatable topic indeed. Some teachers have experienced an onslaught of helicopter parenting with the shift to online classes. Others complain that they are simply unable to catch the attention of parents, no matter what they do. While the over-involvement of parents in online classes is a real problem, there still is a need for a basic level of parental involvement for holistic learning. When evaluating parent communication strategy, teachers need to convey that parent engagement is critical to a student’s success at school and in life. Teachers can send out surveys to parents related to student’s behaviour which will help them to understand each student as a person and a learner. This is also a great way to indulge in conversation with the parents to build good relationships.
Successfully managing home-school communication is a continuous process. Schools alone cannot address all of a child's developmental needs. Thus, there is always a constant need to have a strong partnership between schools and families to educate children. In simpler times, this relationship was natural and easy to maintain. Now as there is a paradigm shift in the education sector, even simple communication requires more thought and focus as it can prove costly when not done right.