Obstacles to Communication
Fear: It can be difficult for parents to hear unpleasant news about their child.
Defensiveness: Parents naturally want to protect and defend their children. When uncomfortable information is shared with parents about their child, their first response may be defensiveness.
Anger: Uncomfortable feelings can turn into anger. A parent's feelings of fear and/or defensiveness can manifest in angry outbursts.
Steps to Effective Communication
- Institute a parent Involvement plan: A well written plan...
- Helps to ensure communication occurs on a regular basis.
- Articulates the important role that the parent plays in the child's development.
- States the program's goals and philosophy in working with children.
- Puts into writing how communication will occur.
- States the times that the teaching staff will be scheduling conferences.
- Lists the volunteer opportunities and how parents can become involved in the program.
- Validate the parent's role: When speaking with a parents, it is important to remind them of the positive effect they have on their child.
- Share some real life classroom stories that reflect this.
- Help parents recognize their attributes and that together a stronger team is formed.
- Call on parents for their knowledge of their child.
- Provide proof: When there is a need to speak to a parent about a child's behavior or development, provide support for what you are saying.
- Share information/observations gained during class time.
- Have developmental screening and assessment data available. (Remember, you should never make a diagnosis unless you are licensed to do so.)
- Be specific when describing the child's behavior and/or your concerns.
- Show the parent work samples or observations.
- Be positive
- Separate the child from the behavior
- Remind the parent that your goal is to help their child be successful
- Consider the child's strengths when developing an action plan
- Stay on task - describe the concerns or unwanted behavior, discuss appropriate expectations, and then develop a plan on how to get there together.
- Help the parent be successful
- Have ideas ready that parents can use at home to help their child.
- Bring written information or handouts to the meeting.
- Encourage parents to spend quality time with their children.
- Invite the parent to volunteer in the classroom.
- Create a safe place
- Set an appointment time that is convenient for the parent, with a low chance of interruptions.
- Provide a safe and respectful environment.
- Ensure that others cannot overhear your conversation.
- Use open communication
- Maintain an open stance both physically and verbally.
- Show the parent that you are actively listening and understanding.
- Repeat what you hear the parent say (active listening).
- Document what is said and any decisions made during the conversation.
- Availability of resources
- Offer parent support groups
- Invite local specialists to come in and talk
- Offer a resource library
- Have staff regularly attend workshops and conferences to ensure that they have the necessary skills to work with families.
By welcoming parents onto our team, we help eliminate barriers and gain allies who have valuable information about the child and the motivation to do what is necessary to help their child succeed. As parents grow to appreciate that your goal is to help their child be successful, they will become more open and willing to work with you on your focal point, the child.