I love my students and getting to know their families too. The opportunity to get to know so many children and being part of their journey at our school is one that I feel so blessed to be part of. It is so important to include families in the learning experience and I now get this more than ever, as a mother as well.
Being communicative with families is one of the most important things you will do.
Firstly, you are advocating for your arts program, and we all know that advocacy is critical in making the arts have a strong place in your school. Secondly, you are building a bridge into your classroom for families to see your program and also you are getting on the same page about expectations for best effort work from the kids. Parents need to be aware of how their child is doing in art class and if anything is below an expectation that you know they can achieve, it is your job to ask for the help you need! Here comes the best part….technology makes this so easy.
1. Start a classroom blog.
Think about starting one! I update monthly and I am sure to ask families to ask questions of their kids as an opportunity to get a window into our studio and into the brain of of their kiddo…
2. Send happy emails home!
I try to do this all fall, which is why September through December is a harder season for me, when it comes to being busy. I send a ton of emails to new families almost as a way to welcome them and I always include a photo with the child working hard on the project. This is a perfect way to start a relationship. It helps when I have a problem in the future, I have already set a nice tone and rapport with the family as allies and even more important, our first communication is not one that is negative.
3. Send specific emails home.
Being a parent can be hard. Now that I am one, I see that even when I think I know what I am doing, I can often be at a loss on how to help my child do her best. Here is where non-judgmental details along with strategies can really help.
Also….being sure to write something kind and positive about the child is very helpful in setting the tone that you care about the child and see them for who they are. You have to be honest here, because authenticity is essential in making a connection with families! Parents know their kids and you want to show you do too.
This clearly takes a ton of time, but I think the parent appreciates it and the child always seems to benefit! Try and think of it as an investment in your time together for the next 1-6 years together, and more importantly, an investment in the child.
Don’t have that kind of time? Most of the time, the emails look more like this:
Also…you have to follow up! After a rough email home, I always send a friendly one a week later showing a photo of the progress of how the child improved. It always gets a good response back and shows how much I truly care about the child.
4. Be visible
I am a chatty one myself, so I can be seen in the hallways chatting it up when I need to be setting up a lesson. I lovvvve connecting with families so this can be hard for me to stop, really! But I also choose one outside of school event as a way to connect with families and as a way to be visible, besides being in the hallways.