As a preschool teacher, you have to be an expert in many areas. You are expected to coach, mediate, and teach while communicating all of this to the parents in your classroom. Some teachers are tempted to let communication fall to the wayside, but it is an important part of your job.
1. Introduce yourself. Before school starts, send a welcome letter to your students and their families. Tell them about yourself and your teaching philosophy. Give a preview of some things that you will be studying in the coming year.
2. Create a website. Almost every family has a computer at home with online access. What a great way to keep your parents updated about the day to day happenings in your preschool classroom. Give opportunities for parents to volunteer. Be sure to include weekly unit topics.
3. A newsletter is a great idea. Send it out once or twice a month and put it on your website. Be sure to include important dates like due dates for upcoming projects or dates for special events. Have a question of the month that your students answer. Here are a few to try. If you could have three wishes, what would they be? Or, what chores do you have to do? Be creative and have fun with it!
4. Have a parent conference once a semester. A lot of schools have early release days for parent conferences. If not, try having a quick conference before or after school. If face to face conferencing isn’t possible, have a phone conference. It is important to keep parents updated on their children’s progress.
5. Be positive! You will not always have good news to share. When you have to share bad news or give a negative report, try to sandwich it between two positive traits about the student. In other words, start with something positive, give the bad news, then end the conference or the phone call on a positive note.
6. Caught you being good. Sometimes it can feel as if all you call with is bad news. Try to catch your students being good. Keep a “Being Good" checklist so that you are not picking the same students. Check off students as you catch them being good. Then, call home with a quick positive report or send an email.
7. Think before you speak. This may sound like a given, but it really needs to be mentioned. Do your best not to speak to a parent when you are upset. Try to take a few minutes and cool down. Jot down some notes about the situation to help when you talk to the parent.
8. Be careful with email. It can be hard to determine tone when reading an email. It can be easy for a parent to misinterpret something that you wrote in an email. Email is great for a quick question, or an update. If it is something that is lengthy, save it for a phone call or a face to face conference.
9. Give a quick response. Try to respond to parent concerns as soon as you can. A good idea is to set aside the first ten minutes of your planning time or the first ten minutes after school to respond to parents’ questions and concerns.
10. Ask for help. If you’re unsure how to proceed, get your preschool director involved. If you have a conference that you feel could be problematic, involve a mediator. Your preschool director or team leader would be great choices. Be sure to let them know what is going on beforehand.