One of the things I am often asked is how to involve parents in their child’s learning. Now, as we all know, having parents in your classroom more than occasionally can be a distraction for the children. However, it’s a huge benefit to have parents involved – so it can be a fine line sometimes.
One of the most effective ways I’ve found to get parents involved is through simply eliciting their feedback. It’s one thing to ask them face-to-face, but some parents prefer a less direct approach and it does facilitate greater frankness in their feedback.
We used a ‘Learning Journey’ book to trace each child’s progress (including where they were in their learnings and where they traveled to during their preschool year), which parents could look at any time. In this book, we included a feedback form for suggestions and comments from parents – and made our desire for frank feedback very clear.
We didn’t get any nasty comments, but there were a lot of constructive ideas – and a lot of positive comments too, indicating we were heading in the right direction.
One of the really interesting feedback ideas we received was a suggestion to involve fathers – you can find out what we did in response here.
One child’s parents wanted her to slow down when writing her name and to learn to write her name correctly – I found that while sometimes parents are reluctant to give constructive criticism to you in person (for cultural or personality reasons), on paper they’re more comfortable. There was some positive feedback too; it’s always nice to hear someone say “you’re doing a great job”.
I recommend you get specific in your questioning – especially when you have new areas you are implementing, or have questions about. Always give them feedback on what you did – close the loop, so you can aim for continuous improvements.