There are a number of strategies that can be used by parents to develop a positive relationship, improve communication and enhance co-operation between home and school.
1. Build a positive relationship with the school by being involved in their child’s learning and taking part in school activities. This might include attending parent teacher meetings, attending school events, or volunteering at school. Parents send the message that they value education and want to support the school staff. When you have a positive relationship with the school it is easier to ask questions, offer opinions and talk honestly about your child.
2. Learn about the school and special education system by asking questions and reading information sent home from school. Special education is a complex system within the school that has its own terms and language. The system is designed to include parents as valued partners in the education of their child, however, it is often difficult to understand and hard to navigate. Parents can get information about special education from the classroom teacher or the Principal, or on the school board website.
3. Plan ahead for meetings or phone calls and think about what you are going to say and share. Organize the information you want to share and make copies of reports or provide a written list of key facts or issues. Plan what you want to say and make notes for your use during the meeting. Practise what you are going to say with a family member or friend and ask them for suggestions on how to clarify or simplify your words and ideas.
4. Identify the person you are talking with or the people who will be at a meeting. Try to get this information ahead of time and be informed about what their role is at the school or in your child’s program. If you meet for the first time at a meeting, ask each person how they know your child and what they will be contributing to the meeting.
5. Clarify the purpose of a phone call or meeting. Some conversations or meetings are just intended to collect or share information about your child. At other times the individual or group will be making plans on how to help your child. Make sure you understand who will be responsible for the next steps and how you will be involved or informed.
6. Keep the lines of communication open and do not hesitate to contact the school when necessary. You may want to share news of your child’s progress or a success, or you may want to raise a concern. Open communication makes it easier to celebrate successes, avoid problems and resolve concerns quickly.
A positive relationship with the school staff is an important cornerstone of your child’s education. Creating and maintaining a good working relationship with the Classroom Teacher, the Principal and other staff will support your child’s success at school.
For more tips see: Shared Solutions A Guide to Preventing and Resolving Conflicts Regarding Programs and Services for Students With Special Education Needs (2007), on the Ministry of Education website at: