Mar 03

Building Positive Parent-Teacher Relationships for Better Student Outcomes

The quality of student-teacher relationships plays a pivotal role in the effectiveness of student learning. And part of building relationships with students should include building positive parent-teacher relationships. This post explores the importance of healthy relationships between teachers and parents, as well as strategies educators can use throughout the school year to continually build relationships, involve parents, and influence their child’s success.

Why Are Parent-Teacher Relationships Important?

Renowned classroom management experts and authors Lee and Marlene Canter write that parents are the most important people in a child’s life—and the most influential at motivating and shaping their child’s thoughts and attitude toward school. 

Positive parent-teacher relationships are foundational for encouraging and developing whole-family engagement in a child’s learning. By expanding the role of parents in teaching and collaborating with committed families to help students reach academic goals, school and home influences come together to form a unified team.

An analysis examining 50 previous studies on the subject found parental involvement is consistently and positively associated with student achievement, especially within the developmental stage of early adolescence around the middle school years.

Other American Psychological Association research shows parent engagement in their child’s school promotes positive education and health behaviors, including strong attendance, higher grades, and a lower likelihood of violence, substance abuse, and other problem behavior through adolescence.

Exchanging information and building relationships with involved parents also benefits teachers. Through your students’ parents, you can gain helpful insight into how you might communicate best with their children.

By having more positive contact with parents, teachers learn more about students’ social and emotional needs and their home environments and become better equipped to address those needs. Involved parents also tend to have a more positive view toward teachers, which results in improved teacher morale. 

When students see their parents and teachers engaging in a positive manner, they are more inclined to trust and build better relationships with their teachers. When approaching relationships with your students’ parents, consider the following strategies: 

Be Quick to Establish Positive Communication with Parents

  • Establish cordial relationships with parents by reaching out through emails or quick phone calls before the school year even begins. 
  • Send an introductory welcome letter home on the first day and at open houses or meet-the-teachers events for parents. Include copies of relevant disciplinary plans, homework policies, or similar syllabi to ensure everyone begins on the same page.
  • Introduce yourself and let parents get to know more about you, your expectations for students, classroom rules, and your preferences or policies for contact throughout the year.

Continue Communication During the School Year

  • Communicate that you care about their child’s success and maintain positive correspondence with parents beyond just the beginning of the school year by reporting good news such as their student’s milestone academic accomplishments or exemplary behavior. After initially establishing positive communication with parents, many teachers find that parents are more receptive when the teacher needs to reach out because of a problem.
  • Whether it’s through a classroom newsletter, individual email discussion threads, or personal phone calls, continue to build rapport with parents through check-ins, progress reports, and other updates via various modes of communication.

Demonstrate Positivity, Professionalism, and Confidence Through Parent Interactions

Every interaction, communication, or parent-teacher conference with a student’s guardian is an opportunity to shine. Confident and assured communication is important to establishing a good rapport with parents.

As most parents only occasionally interact with teachers face to face, smile and be positive, warm, and friendly. Even if just in passing during drop-offs or the briefest of encounters, positive impressions from these quick connections go a long way.

Just as you do with students, make a point to learn to correctly pronounce parents’ names and how they prefer to be addressed. Thank them for their support, invite them to participate in making decisions, and celebrate their student’s success with them.

Develop a Plan for Involving Parents

Distributing a quick and simple parent survey could uncover a parent with specific skills, pertinent knowledge, or relevant experience related to topics in your upcoming lesson plans.

Rather than just a twice-a-year occurrence or sporadic interactions, considering parent involvement should be an ongoing responsibility as you develop exactly when, how, and why you contact parents throughout the year. 

Your positive relationships and open communication with parents allow them to become more involved in their child’s education while extending students’ learning and critical thinking beyond the classroom.

Make a regular habit of updating parents on the specific subjects and lesson items being covered in class. Suggest concepts they might ask their child to explain or consider further, or tip them off about work samples they should be sure to have their students share with them.

Many parents want to be active in helping their children succeed but often don’t know how or the best way to be supportive. Be specific and provide parents with simple strategies or suggest helpful resources for supporting their child’s learning at home.

Join Avanti for More Relationship Building

Relationships built on trust, collaboration, and effective communication are essential in education. Teachers and students interact far more frequently and directly influence one another’s learning experience daily. Moreover, your relationships with students’ parents can further your understanding of their background, interests, or unique learning needs.

Learn more about how you can effectively build relationships and expand your overall teaching toolkit with a seven-day free trial of our innovative, on-demand professional development platform.

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