October 11, 2020

How to Build Home to School Connections

 


When I think about relationships in the classroom, it’s not just the ones with my students that are important. Parents count on me to be part of their team to help their children, and I count on parents to partner in their student’s education. As a parent and teacher, I know how important it is to build relationships with families. Learn how to build home to school connections with your families this year!


Make Sunshine Phone Calls and Send Positive Notes Home

If every time parents hear from you, it’s a negative thing, those home to school connections get broken easily. Yes, you will need to make phone calls or send notes home for the tough stuff, but it’s also vital to reach out to families when things are going well academically or with social-emotional well being. In addition to notes or emails, you can also make positive phone calls home. I call these “Sunshine Calls”, and it’s best to make one early in the year. Give yourself a few minutes a day to call home during the first few weeks of school. Think of a specific, positive thing you can say about their child to start building home to school connections.


Emphasize Reading at Home

Don’t wait until parent-teacher conferences to tell parents about their child’s reading progress. Send home reading conference forms with specific skills and progress, especially for K-2 readers. Focus on the student perspective and what they worked on with you that day. The forms are easy to understand and give the child a chance to talk to parents about what they read and what skills they are working on. In addition, let parents know that it’s not always about what their kids are reading at home but really that they are reading! Sometimes, parents want to focus on reading levels since that’s what we do in school to monitor progress and provide interventions. However, encourage parents to have their children read what they love at home. The very best readers spend time reading for pleasure. Also, invite parents to become partners in their student’s reading routine by suggesting titles they may want to enjoy together. Build the home to school connections by sharing resources for free books with parents. Let families know how they can access the school library, public libraries, and electronic book resources provided by the district or school. Finally, make sure you are communicating with families in the language they speak at home. Even if a student speaks English well, it doesn't mean their parents are receiving the information. My reading communication forms are available in both English and Spanish.


Fix the Math Mindset

In my decades of teaching elementary math, nothing hurts more than when I hear a parent say, “I’m not a math person” in front of their child. Everyone can be a math person! The fixed mindset of “I can’t” that comes with math often passes on to children. Communicating about the how and why of math in the classroom will help parents understand that their child can meet and perhaps even exceed expectations in the math classroom. Share math skills that you reviewed with your students and what they can work on at home with these math assessment forms. Because the forms are focused on multiple skills, they help with differentiating instruction for all your K-2 math learners!


Prepare for Testing

A lot of getting ready for state or national testing is not about the content students are studying. Many test taking strategies are about study skills and coming to school ready to take a test. This includes getting a good night’s sleep and eating a healthy breakfast. Parents are partners in test taking preparation as well. Share these test taking communication forms with families as test time gets close. Building home to school connections is key when it comes to test time. Relationships are key when it comes to classroom management and even getting your students to buy into content. However, it’s not just about getting to know the kids in your classroom. Parents and guardians are partners in their children’s education, and we count on each other. These parent communication resources will help you to build home to school connections with your families this year!