Communication is essential in the education sector, and all players must seek effective ways of passing their messages. Effective communication results in the building of trust between the educator and parents. It also enhances confidence and eventually, there exists a stable and workable relationship between the parties for the benefit of the child and the education goals (Suter et al., 2009). In this essay, the article identifies the elements of effective communication with parents. It also identifies effective communication skills when dealing with difficult parents. In its last section, it addresses strategies that can foster effective family communication.
Elements of effective communication with parents
Effective communication is essential to improving the relationship between the educator and a parent. Importantly, teachers must identify critical elements that enhance the communication. Communication occurs verbally and non-verbally (Suter et al., 2009). Verbal communication stems from spoken conversations, for instance, face-to-face, phone calls and written messages. Non-verbal is less direct and includes one’s body language, gestures, facial expression and tone of voice. Therefore, effective communication occurs when the educator can establish the meaning and essence of this element of communication. The method one chooses to use in communication their concern is critical to effective communication. Interestingly, non-verbal communication is an element that many rely on as compared to verbal when there is need to convey a message (Suter et al., 2009). Therefore, identification of the most appropriate method of communication and at when to use it is a critical element to effective communication.
The second element of effective communication is building strong relationship with the parents from the start. Educators must communicate with parents by sending home graded work and comments concerning class work, behavior, and any other issues so that the parent can make their comments or offer feedback (Julie, Pewitt-Kinder & George, 2009). Through the consistent contact, effective communication is established between the parties.
The next element of communication is the recognition of diversity as a result of the differences that we have in life experiences, culture, traditions, family circumstances and values, languages and community backgrounds (Julie, Pewitt-Kinder & George, 2009). The recognition of existing diversity is critical to nurturing effective communication. Therefore, educators should understand and respect diversity because it will allow them to appreciate how different parents would to get messages and provide feedback. It will also allow them to know the best way to communicate with such parents, especially if there is a language or cultural barrier (Eric Digest, 1991). For instance, some families may prefer face-to-face communication as opposed to phone calls, and vice versa.
Another element of effective communication is the parent-teacher conference as it allows the parties to interact and share their perspectives on different issues that may be affecting the delivery of educational outcomes (Julie, Pewitt-Kinder & George, 2009). It is also a forum that allows educators to provide information to the parents. These conferences provide opportunities for teachers to share policy information to different types of parents, for instance, parents of children with disabilities.
Effective communication skills in dealing with difficult parents
Educators are sometimes faced with challenges in handling difficult or overbearing parents. Such parents may impede the communication process and make it difficult to pass information to them (Eric Digest, 1991). However, parents become difficult because of several reasons, chief among them the lack of information. Others may look difficult because of cultural diversity while others do not take an active role their children’s education and social welfare due to tight and demanding work schedule. Importantly, the educators must have skills that will help them deal with such parent so as to enhance effective communication (Eric Digest, 1991). First, they need initiate the communication process right from the start by emphasizing that the classroom is open to parents. One can also invite them to volunteer during special learning sessions or school functions. Such moves allow them to interact with the difficult parents and build strong relationships. Secondly, they should develop relevant communication skills, for instance, listening skills that will allow them to listen more to these parents, especially during a parents’ conference (Suter et al., 2009). They need to notice how they feel when communicating so that they are aware of what they are saying since it helps in building strong and positive relationships with parents. Another important skill in communication is the use of problem-solving skills when dealing with difficult parents since they help one to reason and be analytical in their approach, especially when dealing with diversity issues.
Strategies that foster effective family communication
Educators play a significant role in enhancing effective family communication. They can achieve this by taking several steps that are action-based. For instance, they can communicate with these families more frequently and using different ways (Eric Digest, 1991). Secondly, they can use culturally acceptable ways to relate to the diversity of families that are represented in the school. Thirdly, they can select communication methods that encourage two-way interactions with the families. Fourthly, they need to reach out to the families that rarely attend school activities and communicate with them (Suter et al., 2009). Another strategy that can be used to foster effective family communication is attending neighborhood meetings as such meetings are more comfortable and less intimidating than school meetings for such families.
Effective communication can be established when teachers identify elements of effective communication, nurture personal communication skills, and recognize strategies that foster effective family communication.
Eric Digest (1991). Communicating with Culturally Diverse Parents of Exceptional Children.
ERIC Digest # E497. Accessed on 31st March from http://www.ericdigests.org/pre-9220/diverse.htm
Julie, A.R., Pewitt-Kinder, J. & George, S. (2009). Partnering with Families of Children with
Special Needs. Young Chidren, September 2009. Accessed on 31st March 2016 from https://www.naeyc.org/files/yc/file/200909/Families%20of%20Children%20with%20Special%20Needs.pdf
Suter, E., Arndt, J., Arthur, N., Parboosingh, J., Taylor, E., & Deutschlander, S. (2009). Role
understanding and effective communication as core competencies for collaborative practice. Journal of interprofessional care.