Nobody knows a child as well as the folks that live with them. They understand their likes and dislikes. They realize what motivates them. They are aware of their strengths and weaknesses. They know their quirks. They have spent the child’s entire life monitoring developmental milestones. Simply put, they are your best resource when it comes to knowing who a child really is.
It’s amazing how well you’ll get to know each child as an individual over the course of a school year. Soon you’ll be able to share insight with the families about a side of the child that they do not typically have the priviledge of seeing first hand. As the teacher, you’ll be able to speak about their learning styles, their academic strengths and weaknesses and their ability to work cooperatively with peers.
Ultimately, you want to form a team with each family working toward the common goal of best meeting each individual child’s needs.
And you will.
But for now, it is the parent who is the expert and you will benefit from learning from them.
I find it is best to go about that in two ways.
First send home a Parent Survey. I personally think it is best to mail it to the house prior to school starting with a request for them to either mail it back to you at school or to send it in with the child on the first day. The reason for this is that once school starts they will be bombarded with tons of forms to fill out in addition to the usual hustle and bustle that comes with getting back into a “school routine.” Having them fill it out ahead of time increased the likelihood that it will be thorough.
Next, set up brief “getting to know you” conferences. Do this ASAP. I know you are busy during those first few weeks of school, but that truly is the best time to do this. The purpose of this meeting should be to spend a few minutes face to face getting to know each other. It is NOT a conference about your observations in the classroom as it is far too early for that. Instead, it is a chance to put faces and names together and to build confidence and trust and the foundation of a team. It is perfectly natural for parents to be concerned at the start of the school year. Providing them with a few minutes of your time to hear their hopes and concerns will go a very long way in easing their minds and thus make your relationship a positive one from the get go.
I have put together a packet of “Tell Me About Your Child” forms to send home. They are part of the Blackline Design Collection, but can certainly be used on their own. Click here to download them for free as today's Flash Freebie.