Educators want to talk to parents. Parents want to talk to us. NZEI activists share their advice on how to get the communication right. Share this information with parents.

  1. It’s 10 to 9, children are swarming, some try to give you money, others press you with permission slips, one little boy pulls on your sleeve to tell you his dog died, and – and here comes a parent. Parents need to know that, unless it’s urgent, 10 to 9 isn’t the best time to talk. Make a time that suits parents for after-school. (But for early childhood centres, any time is a good time.)
  2. Find out what form of communication suits best: face to face, telephone, email, internet, texts.
  3. At the first meeting, encourage parents to tell you what you should know about their child. Set the tone early – show that you and the family are a team, working in the child’s best interests.
  4. Start early in the year. Hold an open day or an open morning (e.g. 9.30–10.30) where parents can see how children interact at school, and children can show off their teacher and classroom.
  5. Get to know parents – their jobs, hobbies and how they can help at school. They might like to contribute their skills, for example coaching sports.
  6. Speak in plain English – it’s easy to fall back into jargon. Encourage parents to pull you up if they don’t understand. And if you don’t know the answer to a parent’s question, don’t bluff – ask if you can get back to them.
  7. Conversations about a child need to be positive. It’s like a U-shape, begin and end with a positive. With two issues it’s a W: three positives and two negatives
  8. Encourage parents to raise issues when they are small. Be non-judgemental and open minded.
  9. involve parents in the learning process with evening sessions to show how literacy and maths are taught – follow up with open classroom sessions so they can see it in action.
  10. Help parents to understand the role of school – and how pedagogy and ways of learning have changed since they were at school.