Building the Home-School Partnership
by Linda Mandracchia
Ahhh, summertime, splashing around in the pool and running through the sprinklers. But before we know it, September will be upon us and school will be starting. So, have you thought about how you want to start your year with your students, colleagues, and parents? Oh, did I say parents? Yes, one the strongest partnerships we need to build during the course of the school year is our relationship with your student’s families.
According to many researchers, just about all families care about their children, want them to succeed, and are eager to obtain better information from schools so as to remain good partners in their children’s education. In the book, School, Family and Community Partnerships Your Handbook for Action, Epstein, et al., suggest five levels of commitment to strengthen the home-school partnership.
Families and teachers care about the children and families want to feel welcomed into the school.
Teachers and families treat each other with respect and are open to both talking and listening to each other.
Be clear about programs, expectations, children’s progress. Families’ talents, needs and topics important to them need to be assessed and should be communicated clearly.
Educators and families work together to ensure student success.
Educators and families learn to work together over time to strengthen student goals; families’ involvement improves not only their own child, but the school as well.
So, as you bask in the sun at the beach, think about the many ways you would like to communicate with your parents on an ongoing basis. Some suggestions are memos, notices, information on curriculum, conferences, newsletters, phone calls (refer to my article, School Called, to initiate those first positive phone calls), e-mail and websites. Communication should be kept open on both sides for questions and interactions. Families should also be informed about ways they can help their child at home. And of course, families need to know how they can be involved at the school by volunteering either in your classroom or the school to assist in building the home-school partnership.
Epstein, Joyce L, Sanders, Mavis G, Simon, Beth S, Clark Salinas, Karen, Rodriguez Jansorn, Natalie, Van Voorhies, Frances L. School, Family, and Community Partnerships Your Handbook for Action. Thousand Oaks: Corwin Press, 2002.