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Communication With Parents


Guest tinkerbell
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Guest tinkerbell

Hi all

The school questionnaire has returned from parents and I am feeling sad and fed up.

I teach 16 reception and 5 year1 in a very small room in an old victorian building,the class next door to me other half of yr1 and all yr2 walk through my classroom to get to the hall,ICT room library etc.

 

At the beginning of the year I let the parent of new children come into school and settle them in 20 mins before school officially starts.....this was to ease the corridor of prams etc etc.

The children now have been asked to line up with the rest of the school to come in at the normal time or the children can come in 10 mins before the bell (this is a whole school thing).

My TA (bless her) doesn't officially start until 5 mins into this and she is busy sorting aout fruit etc and other things for school...she comes in 20 mins earlier than she should.

So we have about 6 children who come in early because their parents are off to work.

 

I get out to bring children in every day and take children to door 10 mins before rest of school ( so they don't get flattened) this gives me the chance to have quick words with parents and they to me eg grandma is picking up ,or hes had a bad cold/bad night etc.

 

The parents also have a weekly school newsletter

My version also if things need explaining

A half termly class newsletter about topics to be covered etc

Each child has a home/share book which I check daily and comment if need to answer a question...I use this book as a reading record and 2 times a week put in comment

half termly we have big book of photos which goes home for child to share with parents .for one night...the whole half term in photos...lovely comments have come back in book

I sent CD of their childs photos home at Christmas as present.

Last day in each half term we have open classroom for last half hour ...you cannot move in my room

Christmas play 2 afternoons

carols at church 1 afternoon

Summer term we ill have our class assembly where parents are invited

2 parents evenings (20 min slots)

Learning journals home at end of each half term

We are available from 8 am one morning a week if they want to make an appointment.

I have asked if anyone would like to come in and help in class (1 parent came unfortunately the one whose daughter then just followed mum around!)

 

In the questionnaire the parents have said they dont feel communication is very good between them and school,many have asked to have oppertunities to see their child working ? and to know at the end of the day what they have been doing.

 

Feel abit deflated as at the end of the day when I go to the door and do my big smile singing and dancing routine .......it obviously isn't enough

 

we physically do not have the space inn school and cannot have more than one year groups parents in for an assemly as our hall is too small

 

help Tinkerbell anymore suggestions apart from Get a Life!

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Blimey Tinkerbell, would they like you to tapdance while singing the newsletter to them! As a parent I'd be really happy with all that you do, did any of them say how communication could be improved? I'd be hard pushed to think what more you could do, so don't take it to heart to much, some people are never satisfied.

Karrie

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Guest tinkerbell

Thank you aliamch

 

to be honest it isn't all the parents ,the 5 yr1 parents have all come back positive (they were on green paper)

out of the 16 reception 9 came back....do we presume the parents who didn't reply are happy??

 

Tinkerbellxx

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Poor you, tinkerbell - it does seem that you do a lot to keep your parents informed of what is going on!

 

Perhaps this is about managing parents' expectations rather than struggling to meet their needs for information which may be unrealistic. One of the things every parent has to get used to as their children get older and progress through the educational system is that they become more and more distant from the 'action' as it were.

 

In pre-school we're so used to being able to be there for as much as we are able when their children attend and there are lots of opportunities to come in and help on rota, etc. The staff ratios allow us to be available to talk to parents informally about their child's day and parents can ring us up to check how little Johnny is getting on if he was upset at drop off.

 

With the best will in the world, when children go to school this changes somewhat - we still get to talk to our child's teacher in the morning, but chances are we don't go into the classroom to drop them off and settle them first, and so we don't get a mental picture of what our children do all day. We also probably haven't had the chance to observe the whole day during the settling process so we don't really know what goes on.

 

Added to this when we ask our children what they did they say "don't know" or "played" or whatever.

 

Do you have volunteers who come into school regularly? When my children were small, going in to help with art activities or hear readers was the best way of seeing the school day in action. I wonder if the parents who are asking to see their child in school are the ones who don't offer to come in to help? Were the questionnaires named and can you identify individual parents and speak to them about what they expect?

 

We have a portable whiteboard which we use to pass messages to parents about the day ahead, but sometimes when I think of it I also talk to the children about what we have done during the morning and I scribe their answers on the board to let parents know what we've been up to. Its a simple idea but one that works - often it gives parents a bit more information so that they can neatly avoid the "I don't know" response when they ask their child what they did today.

 

I would say don't beat yourself up, tinkerbell - you already do a lot to keep your parents informed. You and your TA obviously work incredibly hard and I would firstly congratulate yourselves on what you do well!

 

Sorry to go on :o - reading it back I realise I've spoken from both a parent's and a practitioner's point of view - hope it all makes sense!

 

Maz

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PLEASE bear in mind that some people feel they HAVE to write something on a form.

Maybe they don't realise that the newsletters etc are actually a form of communication and only think it means face to face (one to one!).

Some thing we do in nursery when the children are first in is make a coloured list of everything we have done that week. With your older children could they not begin to make a 'list' of things they have done as a class. and put that in the window? nothing fancy just 'mark making' on a large piece of paper on a table?

We have just had our questionaires back and I know how you feel. One of our parents wants nursery to do activities out of school! say no more!

we also put copies of each school letter that is sent home, in our window (obviously on a serious note there may be some parents/carers who have difficulties reading).

We do invite parents in in small groups to see nursery working within the first 6 weeks as well.

good luck chin up, whatever we try to do there always seems to be more wanted.

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(obviously on a serious note there may be some parents/carers who have difficulties reading).

This is a good point: in our group we know who these parents are/may be but in school it can be more difficult to identify them. We take the time to explain what is in the newsletter, and answer any questions these parents might have at the time, so probably a parent who finds it difficult to read actually gets more information than most!

 

Maz

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This is a good point: in our group we know who these parents are/may be but in school it can be more difficult to identify them. We take the time to explain what is in the newsletter, and answer any questions these parents might have at the time, so probably a parent who finds it difficult to read actually gets more information than most!

 

Maz

 

We also take into account the parents for whom English isn't their first language.

And we too do a lot of talking at the door and say 'has everyone seen the new notice about ***'

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Guest tinkerbell

Thank you for all your comments

 

All our parents can read and many are professional people eg doctors or have doctorates .

If there is something important I will open the door and make a big do of it eg'please don't mind the children being muddy we found a lovely mole hill to dig up this afternoon!'

 

Cathelsey they too would like more afterschool clubs for the children in reception and KS1 (we do after schoolclubs for KS2) they say this with their children falling asleep in the afternoon and shouting grumpy children with parents at the end of the day.

 

space is the problem to have the parents in i could do a rota ,but the children would not be themselves in this situation?

 

I have asked parents to come in and help...put it on letter and asked when they have all crowded in on open afternoon and at the end of reading talk .

 

Thanks Tinkerbellx

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Thank you for all your comments

 

Cathelsey they too would like more afterschool clubs for the children in reception and KS1 (we do after schoolclubs for KS2) they say this with their children falling asleep in the afternoon and shouting grumpy children with parents at the end of the day.

 

space is the problem to have the parents in i could do a rota ,but the children would not be themselves in this situation?

 

Thanks Tinkerbellx

 

The Head and assistant have already started a toddling tots football on a Saturday morning - open to anybody not just school which includes our nursery children if they wish to go.

the child whose parents have asked for more has only just settled into nursery, been tons happier since going full time in January was part time until then. there were suggestins made - the library (we do walk to the local library from this term actually! but for reasons on the librarys part will now be after half term), yoga - we do yogic(?) exercises in class already and the other was a 'walk to the park', as we already walk to the post box and then 'around the block' when the occason arises I think I will leave going to the park as a family thing!

 

When we have the parents in the children don't react too differently, some do but the parents can always see how the other children are getting on with their activities.

 

just thought of the other thing we do, we had 'pirates day' yesterday and put some photos on the screen for them to come into see as they picked their children up, if there wasn't enough space parents waited until some had left and then came in, it took about 4 showings for them all to see. but they could see some of the activities that their children had been doing during the day.

 

Cath

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Please don't be too downhearted! You say that 'many' parents have complained about this but obviously you have quite a small group in the first place so a couple of people saying it seems like a large percentage. As others have said, their interpretation of what constitutes communication may not have included all those wonderful things you already do.

 

Perhaps you could put out a second questionnaire, explaining that as this has been flagged up as a concern you would like further more specific feedback in this area. Make a list of all the things you currently do, and get them to mark on a sliding scale how useful they find each item. Then leave a space at the bottom for further comments and suggestions of how communication could be improved. Perhaps if they see it all written out in black and white they'll realise how much you do actually already do! And who knows, someone may just hit on a wonderful effective way of keeping everyone happy. xD

 

In my experience parents fill out questionnaires quickly and with little thought! In the past we have had parents denying knowledge of all sorts of things which we did on a regular basis. I had parents claiming they knew nothing about any of our policies even though they had had our policy folder to read and sign! Others asking for some sort of noticeboard to be used to let them know of what's happening - there was a huge noticeboard in the entrance hall where parents stood everyday when collecting their children and you would've needed to be blind not to see it!! :o

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Guest tinkerbell

Thanks Beau

we will be addressing the feedback from all the parents in school...I just wanted to crack the communication with the new parents as I do try to make their first experiences with the school positive and welcoming

 

 

I will ask the HT if I can do a seperate one ...good idea.

Tinkerbell

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Perhaps you could put out a second questionnaire, explaining that as this has been flagged up as a concern you would like further more specific feedback in this area. Make a list of all the things you currently do, and get them to mark on a sliding scale how useful they find each item. Then leave a space at the bottom for further comments and suggestions of how communication could be improved. Perhaps if they see it all written out in black and white they'll realise how much you do actually already do! And who knows, someone may just hit on a wonderful effective way of keeping everyone happy. :o

 

 

This is a fantastic idea! When I saw your list at the top of your post, I mentally went down it (as I'm sure everyone did) saying 'do that' 'yup, do that' 'ooh good idea' and to me it all made a great list of just what you do. So put on paper like that to parents, how could they not be impressed!?

 

So I'd do Carol's idea - if nothing else it might wake those parents up who think you need to do more! Goodness - if you did any more there'd be no time to do your actual job! (HeHe - just made me think of what 'bones' used to say to Captain Kirk in each episode of Star Trek ' I'm a Doctor, Jim, not a ......' )

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