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Monfredo: Schools Need to Reach Out to Parents & Establish a Partnership

Saturday, October 20, 2018


As a former principal, each year I would remind my staff that “Parents are the child’s first and most influential teachers and it’s our job to reach out to every parent and make them part of the learning process.  We need to connect with them early and often throughout the school year.” There is a great deal of research that show how students perform better academically when they have parents to assist with homework and to be advocates with teachers and principals.

We are now in our second month of the school year and it’s essential that positive communication with the parents be an ongoing practice. Let’s start with reaching parents with some positive news for it’s something that most schools don’t do often enough. Why not call parents with good news about their child? Parents love to hear that their child has accomplished some success. I did it when I was principal at Belmont Community School and had my staff do it as well. These calls let parents know that you care as much about recognizing success and improvement as you do about a child struggling with math.  It also lets parents know that you care about their child and you want them to succeed.

A one-minute telephone call to a parent with good news can make a difference in the climate of a school. If teachers share their students’ successes with the parents, it can provide parents with the confidence and direction on how to become involved in their child’s learning process. In the long list of priorities for teachers, communicating good news is usually not at the top but I would urge them to make it as one of their top priorities. I can attest that it DOES work!

Next, early on involve parents in their children’s day to day work.  Show ways of how they can assist their child at home.  On the elementary level let’s start with the importance of literacy in the home. Here are just a few suggestions to give to a parent…

READ TO YOUR CHILDREN: Research has shown that parents who read to their children and provide many books and magazines and make use of the Public Library help their children develop an interest in and a love for reading.   When reading to your child, stop as you read to ask questions about the pictures, characters or events in the story.  You might also have your child dramatize part of the story or retell his favorite part. Try to read with your child as often as possible. It's the best thing you can do to help him or her learn at school! It also allows you to spend time together in an enjoyable way and to build a strong and healthy relationship.

LISTEN YOUR CHILD READ: As your child learns to read, listen to him or her read aloud. Reading to you gives your child a chance to practice and to improve his or her reading skills. As you listen to your child, remember that your reactions are important. Above all, listen without interrupting. Be enthusiastic and praise your child as often as you can. If possible, be specific with your praise so that your child knows what he or she is doing well.

READING CAN BE A FAMILY ACTIVITY:  Spending time with word games, stories, and books will help your child to build a rich vocabulary by reading and talking about new words. ( Need additional books to give to your parents, just contact me.. . [email protected])

Again, communication is essential at all grade levels.  Many teachers reach out to parents by email and encourage parents to do the same.  The important thing in this process is to reply to the parent as quickly as possible.  However, talking to a parent face-to-face is a more acceptable way for one may misconstrue an email message.

Some schools or individual teachers may want to consider home visits as a way of reaching parents.  You can learn a great deal from a visit for I was humbled by how hard many of the families work and why it is so hard for many to be involved. Also, some districts across the nation include organized home visits by teachers and train those teacher to make the most of their face –to face engagements with parents.

In addition, try setting up workshops for parents as to how they could assist their child at home. Invite family members to attend workshops on important concepts that are taught to their children on a regular schedule.  You may also suggest to parents the following ideas on homework:

  • Encourage your child to divide the homework assignment into “What I can do myself” and “What I need help with.”  Parents should help only with that part of the homework your child cannot do independently, such as flashcards, spelling test review, and clarifying assignments.
  • A good rule to follow is that there will be no TV or other activities until the homework is completed.  Parents should also consider limiting the amount of TV during the week. Consider an hour a day from Monday to Thursday.
  • Monitor your child’s homework by checking it after it is finished.


In summary, the idea is to communicate often and establish a partnership with the parent. This, in turn, will be given a strong message to the child … that we are all working together. Teachers are educational experts but parents are their child’s expert. We need to be asking what we can do to work together!


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