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How-To: Work with Students' Families

Bring a Parent to School Day Carl Sannito

One way to help foster trust and communication with parents is to invite them into your classroom. Oh sure, my parents were told at the beginning of the year that they were always welcome in the classroom any time they wanted to stop in, but very few parents ever took me up on that. 

Of course, you may not want to have that kind of an open-door policy because you may get some parents who can drop in at very inopportune moments. That's a personal decision that you have to make by weighing the pros and cons. Besides that, your administration may have rules and regulations regarding when parents and guardians are allowed to drop in on a classroom, even just for observation. 

However, I haven't had any problems in that regard. I have had just the opposite problem. It's extremely hard for me to get parents to come by. So, what I have done on occasion is to invite parents to come by as part of our culminating events for various projects. 

One project in particular was an author's party for a class book we wrote and published. (You can take a look at the book and pictures from the party at http://suder.cps.k12.il.us/fourth_graders_make_a_book.htm.) Every child got a moment in the sun to share his or her particular writing in front of the class, as well as their family. It was also a wonderful opportunity for the children to celebrate all the work we had done over the past month on our book. The parents had a reason to stop by and the children were my partners in trying to get parents up to the classroom. 

One of the parents who showed up has never forgotten me and always stops by my room to say hi, even though a few years have passed since this party. I think that's a wonderful thing. 

Do you have a comment or suggestion? You can e-mail Carl at carlsannito at yahoo dot com.


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