As much as possible, I try only to call parents with good news. When I have a homeroom, I make sure to call parents with some good news about their child within the first couple of weeks and I make sure that’s the first call they get from me. If I am having trouble with a child’s behaviour, I try to deal with it in the school as much as possible – getting help from the Special Education teacher and the vice-principal if needed. The reason is that calling home about difficult behaviour rarely changes that behaviour and this is usually my goal – that the screaming will stop in my class, for example. When I do have to call parents, because another child was hurt or because property was damaged, etc., I try to follow these tips:
- Keep it short. Parents are busy and I often get them at work.
- Ask for their help. Often parents have been blamed for their child’s behaviour and this is not helpful. If we ask for a parent’s help, it usually goes much better. Sometimes the parent has strategies they are using at home I can use at school.
- Quickly state what happened, without blaming the child. Use neutral language as much as possible.
- State what you did and what the consequences were for the child.
- Ask the parents to review the incident with the child and to reinforce your message e.g. When gym is over, they need to come back to class and not run down the street.
When we treat parents as partners and not the people to blame, we treat them with the respect we hope to receive from them. As my friend says to the parents of children in her class, “I won’t believe everything they tell me about home as long as you don’t believe everything they tell you about school.”