Communicating Between Home and School
When I was a teacher of early and even middle primary years, I often saw a number of parents every morning and afternoon. It was something that I quite enjoyed – the communication, answering any questions they may have or just a quick hello and some feedback on how the day went.
When I started teaching upper primary, I noticed a significant difference in the number of parents who I saw on a regular basis. In fact, it shocked me that often times there was not a single parent popping their head in, wanting to have a chat or asking a question about homework or sport or the upcoming excursion.
It got me thinking about how teachers and schools communicate with home when children are in the middle and upper years of primary school. It makes sense that as children are older (and less likely to want to meet their Dad at the bag rack after school) that parents would expect that their child would communicate anything of importance to them when they arrived home. As a teacher, this makes sense and is all part of the development and maturity of an older child.
In saying that, I believe it is important to ensure that the communication is as strong as it is between home and school in the early years. Most schools have a regular whole school newsletter that is emailed home for parents and families to read. This gives a good overview of what is happening within the school and the community, however what about individual classroom and student needs?
Some teachers will send regular emails or classroom newsletters home to explain what is happening in the learning environment. Depending on the teacher there may also be a virtual classroom that parents can log onto online and see student work, photographs and detailed information on curriculum and learning activities that are occurring during the day. It is also important for you to remember that teachers are professionals and are there to support and teach your children. This means that at any time, you can correspond to ask questions about your child and their learning. This is the form of communication I have found to be the most popular with parents of older primary school children.
Parent Teacher Meetings
At certain times throughout the year, individual schools will allow an opportunity for formal parent-teacher interviews to be held to discuss your child’s progress. This is often around report time (or in some cases between reporting terms) to discuss individual learning needs. Your child’s school will often ask that you request a time during a certain week and you will be allotted between 10 and 20 minutes to attend this interview. During these interviews it is always a good idea to come prepared with questions you may have as the time you have with the teacher is short. Informal chats or meetings can always be had with your child’s classroom teacher at any other time during the school year. This is of course, at the convenience of the teacher and yourself. A good teacher will always be willing to make time to chat with you about any concerns or questions you may have.
Meet the Teacher Night
Meet the teacher night is often held during the first few weeks of the school year. Each individual school may present this differently. I have worked in schools where a team of teachers (example all the year four teachers) will present together discussing general information that is consistent across all classrooms. This may be curriculum, homework expectations, excursions and camps that are to be held, behaviour management policies and team introductions. In other schools, the meet the teacher night may be presented by individual teachers in their own classrooms. These nights are really helpful – they give you some insight into the person or people who will spend most of the year with your child as well as allow the teacher the opportunity to get to know you and your child a little more.
In many cases, students in upper primary school are provided with a school diary or journal. Depending on the school this may be either written or electronic and is often something that teachers expect students to write in at the end of the day before school is completed. The information in this diary is often about homework, any resources that they will need for the following day and any other information that may be important to be communicated with family at home. This is a good way for teachers to ensure that students are sharing what they need to with their parents and guardians.
My School Website
Directly from the website, this is what My School is all about:
The My School website is a resource for parents, educators and the community to find important information about each of Australia’s schools. My School contains data on a school’s student profile, NAPLAN performance, funding levels and sources and other financial information. You can also see enrolment numbers and attendance rates.
Although it will not give you information on individual classroom and individual student needs, this website is a great resource for general information about any state or private school in Australia.
Communication between home and school is important for many reasons and understanding your role as a parent will make the difference in your child’s education. It is always ok to ask questions and want to know more about what is happening in your child’s school and classroom. An involved parent makes a huge difference to the learning outcomes of an individual child and it is part of the school’s role and responsibility to ensure you are always aware of the teaching and learning that is taking place.