Connected Classrooms: Bridging the Gap Between Home and School

Close up of two brown skinned hands shaking.

The day before an IEP meeting for one of my students, her mother let me know that she was incredibly anxious. I understood the importance of this meeting. I knew that the choices we made would greatly affect the student and her family. I understood that I needed to be prepared.  In the days leading up to the meeting, I met with the student to get her input and I spent hours reviewing her educational records. Old report cards, intervention data, work samples, attendance history, all the things. I also gave her mom a call so that she could ask me anyclarifying questions about our upcoming meeting.  

I felt confident about my ability to advocate for this student, but her mom was honestly terrified. She had spent the past two and a half years trying to articulate her concerns to the school team but felt as though her concerns were not being addressed. I assured her that together, we would help to develop educational programming that met her daughter’s unique needs. Our meeting lasted about two hours. Thankfully, the outcome was favorable for my student and her family. Her mom was thankful and relieved.

Fostering Genuine Partnerships

I wonder if schools realize just how much parents want their children to succeed? I wonder if schools realize just how much parents want to partner with teachers. I wonder if schools realize that many parents want to be a part of the decisions made about their child’s educational programming. Sometimes parents may be resistant to partnering with schools because of previous negative experiences. When parents stop answering our calls at school, it’s usually because they are tired of constantly receiving negative feedback or they are tired of feeling unheard. For some parents, navigating educational processes can be intimidating, but they don’t have to be.

Imagine a world where parents, teachers and specialists worked seamlessly to meet students’ needs. No more unanswered phone calls, or emails, or text messages unread. Sounds like utopia, doesn’t it? If you’ve been thinking of ways to improve student outcomes, lean in. Partnerships between home and school are often the missing link. I’m not talking about parent-teacher conferences or an annual math night. I am talking about authentic and long-lasting partnership.

Like educators, parents are busy people.When people are busy, it’s often best to simplify. Here are 5 ways that we can foster better home-school partnerships:

Open Communication

Implementing regular and diverse communication platforms ensures that parents and educators stay connected. Whether through newsletters, emails, or dedicated online portals, fostering an open line of communication encourages a supportive and transparent relationship. Parents appreciate transparency.

Acknowledge Achievement and Growth

Consider making some positive phone calls home. Celebrating achievements and acknowledging growth is a powerful way to reinforce positive behaviors and academic progress. Instituting a practice of making positive phone calls home not only recognizes a student's accomplishments but also strengthens the bond between parents and educators.

Include Parents in Decision-Making

Parents are valuable stakeholders in their child's education. Involving them in decision-making processes, such as seeking input on school policies and decisions related to educational programming, fosters a sense of partnership and collaboration. This inclusive approach ensures that the perspectives of all stakeholders are considered. Parents want to be included.

Empower Parents

Educate parents about educational processes and offer resources. Empowering parents with knowledge is key to building a collaborative relationship. Sometimes we may not have all the answers, but we can help to point parents and families in the right direction.

Be Flexible

It’s important to remember that parents are juggling multiple responsibilities. It is important to be flexible in scheduling meetings, workshops, and school events. Offering a variety of timings and considering diverse family needs creates an environment where all parents can actively engage in their child's education.

Collaboration makes all the difference. Parents and educators are often more alike than not. The truth is, both parents and teachers want their students to succeed. Here’s to the shared journey of learning, growing, and supporting our students together!

Thank you to our guest writer this month! Please reach out to Aisha if you would like to speak futher about her writing about Fostering Genuine Partnerships between home and school:

Aisha Smith

School Psychologist

SAGE Education Consulting