What is Effective Communication? Effective communication is key to positive partnerships with parents. It builds understanding and trust. When you work in partnership with parents, you’ll all be better able to work together to support children’s wellbeing and development. That’s why in every interaction with parents, one of your goals is to strengthen your partnership with them.
Tips for Effective Communication with Parents
Be an active Listener Listening is the foundation of effective communication. When you listen well, you get more information about children and their families. You also get the full benefit of parents’ in-depth knowledge of their children. And you show parents that you value their experience, ideas and opinions and take their concerns seriously. Respect and sensitivity are key to effective communication.
Here are some ideas for listening well: Let parents know you’re listening and interested by nodding or saying ‘Uh huh’ occasionally. Try to understand parents’ perspectives, even if you disagree with what they’re saying. Put yourself in their shoes.
For example, ‘It sounds like you felt judged as a parent’. Let parents finish what they’re saying before you speak. Then summarise what parents have said, and check that you’ve understood correctly. Check on the feeling as well as the content of what parents have said.
For example, ‘Am I right in saying that you felt upset when the other parent told Taj to stop shouting?’ Use open-ended questions to get more information if you need it. Open-ended questions give people a chance to expand on what they’re saying rather than just saying ‘yes’ or ‘no’. For example, ‘What sort of things did Taj do when he was naughty?’
Speak to parents in a clear, respectful and considerate way Here are some ideas for this kind of speaking: Use ordinary, everyday language that parents can understand. Parents are likely to find professional jargon daunting and alienating, so it’s best avoided.
Think before you speak, especially when you’re talking with parents about difficult or sensitive issues. Find and share the positives about a child’s learning, behaviour and experiences. Be open and honest. Give parents accurate information on what you observe. Ask for parents’ input.
For example, ‘How can we help Kaz learn to take part in group work without distracting other children?’ Let parents make the decisions. You can suggest ideas, but it’s up to them to decide what to do next.
For example, ‘We could try a behaviour chart. Or Yemi could start with short group activities and build up to longer ones. What do you think?’ If you’re not sure about what to say next or how to say it, you don’t have to respond straight away.
For example, ‘I’d like to think about that more. Can I get back to you tomorrow?’ We hope this helps!