By Teachers, For Teachers
Parents can teach you a lot about your students, as long as you know the right questions to ask. As an educator, using classroom management to create a solid foundation with parents and students is essential for academic success. Some of us may find find it easier to talk with parents and create a positive relationship, while others may find it to be a bit harder. As you know, parents have the inside scoop on their child, so their input and guidance can make a huge difference on the way that you teach and interact with their child throughout the school year. Asking the right questions can not only help you learn more about their child, but it can also help you meet the needs of the child much more quickly. Here are some questions to ask parents to help you use classroom management to build a long-lasting partnership which will help support their child’s learning.
While it’s ideal to meet in person and ask the parent about their child, it’s also OK to send these questions home in a letter format. This way the parent can take their time to really think about their answers. You can then discuss these questions and answers on the telephone, or during a parent-teacher conference.
This open-ended question allows parents free rein to tell you anything that they want you to know about their child. Oftentimes, parents’ first instinct is to tell you something about their child that they are worried about, such as their child is too shy, or too outgoing. This question encourages parents to tell you about their strengths or weaknesses. This will give you a better idea about what type of child you are or will be working with.
This question asks the parent to list all of the things that their child does well. Parents can list anything from being good at math, to having the ability to lead others or cope well in hard times. Strengths are different than interests, it’s what the child does well, versus what they like to do. Make sure that you give an example of this when asking this question to ensure you get the answer that you’re looking for.
Asking parents how their child is doing socially will give you some enlightenment as to if they are capable of working well with others or if they are not. This will tell you if you need to keep an eye out for any social problems, like being too much of an introvert or even an extrovert (being overtly outgoing).
What you may think a student needs improvement in may be completely different than what a parent may think they need improvement in. While you may have noticed the child needs to work on their math facts, and work better in a group setting. The parent may think their child needs to work harder on studying and staying organized. This question can help you figure out all of the things the student needs to improve upon.
This question will give you an idea of what the student likes to do in her free time. If you learn that the child likes to ride horses in her spare time, then you can use this information to your advantage by implementing horse-related topics into their curriculum.
Learning how a child copes when they are outside of the classroom will help you understand how they will cope inside of the classroom. Sometimes, the child will cope completely different at home than they will in school. So, this is especially important to learn how and why they cope the way the do at home.
Finding out how a child starts and ends their day will let you learn a lot about not only the child, but how the parents “Parent” the child at home. If you learn that the child doesn’t eat breakfast and goes to bed late, then that may answer why the child is struggling in the classroom. This information will help you create a better plan for the child’s academic and social success both at home, as well as in the classroom.
Asking about what the parents’ concerns are will help you be able to meet the child needs. If a parent is concerned that their child has no friends, then you can create opportunities for that child to meet new friends in the classroom.
Parent-teacher communication is essential for a child’s academic and social success. So, asking them how they would like you to connect with them will better guarantee that you will even have any communication at all. Give the parents options like email, through the class website or app, or via text. Whatever is convenient for them, is the way that you want to proceed.
Learning about what is going on in a child’s home life will help you learn about how to best teach them in school. If a child’s parents are going through a divorce, then the child may be sensitive or withdrawn in the classroom. You can take the information that you learn about the child’s home life, and use it to help the child success in school. For example, you could give the child a break if their homework is late or if they aren’t up to answering a question in class.
What questions have you asked parents that you’ve found to be effective? Please share your classroom management ideas with us in the comment section below, we’d love to hear from you on this topic.
Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds Masters of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com, TeachHUB Magazine, and Hey Teach. She was also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com for five years. You can follow her on Twitter @empoweringed, on Facebook at Empowering K12 Educators, or contact her at Janellecox78@yahoo.com.