July 28, 2010
I feel it is best to send communication to 'families' rather than 'parents.' Children often are not part of a two-parent home, and even if they are, other family members often play an important role in their lives. I begin my relationship with families by asking them to share their knowledge with me. I ask about the child, how the family sees him, and what their priorities are for the school year. I try to treat them as partners on a mission to help the child to grow. I do this in person or through a questionnaire. I explain that I can do a better job of teaching their child if I know his history. I request their expertise in order to gain an understanding of the child. I find that families respond well to someone who wants input and is willing to listen. This has helped me to get more families to attend conferences. When the child has any difficulties, I begin by asking the family what they are seeing at home and asking how they provide support for their child. I will even ask for their advice before offering any of my own. When I do offer advice or explain how I am handling things at school, I am prepared with a 'Plan A' and a 'Plan B.' I get their reactions and adjust accordingly. And finally, all conferences begin and end on a positive note. Every family wants to hear amusing stories and the strengths of their child.