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C3 Module 3.2

Communicating with parents

Before You Begin

Think about a recent successful interaction at school where a parent sought your advice. What did you do that helped the interaction go well?

Families often approach school staff for advice on youth development and mental health.

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There are many benefits to developing effective home-school partnerships – but do you have the skills to communicate effectively with parents?

The importance of home-school partnerships

The benefits of home-school partnerships are apparent, with research consistently finding that teacher and family relationships are important for young people’s social and emotional wellbeing, and academic achievement.

The development of positive relationships between families and school staff takes effort from both parties, and typically develops over time, rather than over a single event.

Effective communication with parents

School staff may find themselves having conversations with parents where concerns are raised or the parent expresses a range of emotions associated with their parenting or with how their child is going at school. It is therefore helpful for all school staff to feel skilled and confident in knowing how to communicate and respond at those times.

Effective communication requires preparation and practice. In particular it requires knowledge of the following areas:

  • Parent and staff vulnerabilities
    Understanding vulnerabilities that both parents and staff can feel when communicating or interacting can help staff to reflect on how best to achieve a positive outcome when communicating with parents.
  • Strengths-based approach
    Taking a strengths-based approach in conversations ensures that strengths are always part of the conversation, negative aspects are not the sole focus of the conversation, and parents are more likely to appreciate that school staff have the best interests of their child at heart.
  • Essential communication skills
    Communication skills are something we use every day in many different situations. However we need to ensure communication is as clear and positive for the other person as we think it is. Practising ensures that refined skills become a habit.
  • Common communication mistakes
    Understanding common mistakes that hinder communication can help prevent them from happening.
  • Cultural differences
    Being aware that cultural differences may affect communication can help staff prepare.

What three tips would you give a colleague to guide them in having a conversation with a parent?

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