Ways to Better Collaborate with Families
Catilin C. Edwards and Alexandra Da Fonte recently wrote an article published by the Council for Exceptional Children that described effective techniques to collaborate with parents. They have created a five-point plan for success.
Be Positive, Proactive, and Solution Oriented
- Send home classroom expectations with positive and negative consequences.
- Call after the first week of school to share a positive story.
- Tell parents three positive comments for every negative one.
- Send homework on a regular schedule so families can plan, including expectations and directions, and have parents sign a receipt.
- Have a clear understanding of students’ disabilities, but remember each is an individual.
- Offer solutions when discussing problems.
Respect Families’ Roles and Cultural Backgrounds in Their Children’s Lives
- Have parents complete an information sheet, including information about the disability and accommodations at home.
- Send draft goals home prior to the meeting.
- Ask if families would be more comfortable with an interpreter, if necessary.
- Attend a cultural event to better understand the student’s background.
Communicate Consistently, Listen to Families’ Concerns, and Work Together
- Keep families informed of progress.
- Develop an action plan to solve problems and remediate skills.
- Don’t use labels when discussing the child.
- Provide contact information, including phone numbers, email address, conference times, etc.
- Set up a communication schedule at parent request.
- Contact parents as soon as possible when problems arise.
- Collaborate with other teachers to see how the student is doing in all classes.
Consider Simple, Natural Supports that Meet Individual Needs of Students
- Compare supports used at home and at school.
- Use individualized behavior supports.
- Communicate changes in behavior supports, accommodations, etc.
- Don’t use generalizations when describing the student.
- Share information about community services that may help at home.
Empower Families with Knowledge and Opportunities for Involvement in the Context of Student’s Global Needs
- Share packet with community resources, support groups, etc.
- Offer parents choices regarding educational decisions.
- Ask parents what kinds of information would be most helpful, and provide it.
- Offer parent trainings and educational classes.
These helpful suggestions can be used to improve parent/school relations.
*Edwards, C.C., & Da Fonte, A. (2012). The 5-Point Plan: Fostering Successful Partnerships with Families of Students with Disabilities. Teaching Exceptional Children 44(3), 6-13.