The beginning of a new school year is critical to both parents and students. The tone the Montessori teacher sets even before school starts will be one parents and students remember.
A Guide to Effective Parent Communication for The Montessori Teacher
It is, therefore, important to make sure to start with as positive a tone as possible. Before school starts, I call each parent personally, welcoming the family to a new school year. I also make sure to invite them to the open house and social. I encourage them to call or email me with any questions and to stop by to see the prepared Montessori classroom before the first day of school.
At the end of the first week, I send an email to all families letting them know how the first week of school went, what happened, and what they might expect in the next few weeks. It is also a tool that I use as a friendly reminder to send along any missing school supplies, paperwork, or school fees. I also use this time to provide my personal contact information, both home phone and email, and encourage them to contact me. I make sure that both email and voice mail are answered the day they are received. Even if I do not have an immediate answer, I will let parents know that I read their email and will respond within the next day or two.
Parents want to hear positive things about their children. I find that by sharing stories of their successes or personal anecdotes, the parents see me as someone who is genuinely interested in their child. It builds trust and helps bridge the gap for when I need to talk to them about a more serious matter. I try to speak to each parent each day when they drop off or pick up their child. Sometimes, it’s nothing more than a quick “Hi. Guess what we did today?” I also tell parents if I've noticed that their child wasn't himself that day. That way, when they get home, the parent is quickly able to assess if the child is ill and needs medical care, if he is tired, or if something is troubling him. Taking the time to talk to parents assures them that they are important in the Montessori education of their child.
Every other month, the children in my classroom host a “Community Meal”. Under the supervision of a parent volunteer, the whole classroom prepares a meal for parents and special guests. During lunch, the children read stories and poems they have written, share special works and research they have done, and perform dramatic and musical pieces. This allows the parents to actually “see” what they are doing in their Montessori classroom. This is important since children often will say “Nothing” when parents ask what they've done at school.
I also encourage parents to observe in the Montessori classroom often. All they need to do is let the administration know ahead of time. This assures parents that the classroom is an open place and that there is nothing to hide.
When the time comes to have a more challenging conversation about a student, it is important that you have the proper documentation to back up the information you will be sharing with the parents. Allow parents time to share their thoughts and feelings. Use active listening skills so they feel like their concerns have been heard. Above all, let the parents know that you genuinely care about their child and that you are willing to work with them to do whatever it takes to help their child succeed.
For more information on this topic and other related Montessori classroom management topics, consider purchasing NAMC’s Montessori 6-12 Classroom Guide.
© North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Monday, May 14, 2007.