Talking about school with our kids
Communication is an essential part of every relationship we have. And, of course, it’s one of the key tools available to us as parents. We all know how important is to talk to our kids and yet how hard it can be sometimes. Sometimes we need to search for inspiration on how to have a meaningful conversation with them.
One important area we need to discuss with our kids is school. Knowing what is going on there will help us to be more engaged. But our kids are not the only ones we have to discuss their school life with. Good parent-teacher communication is essential to effective schooling.
Many people believe that the role of parents is central to a child’s readiness for school and academic success. The role of a teacher obviously also plays a massive and important part. I’d suggest that our kids will achieve the best results in school when we learn how to cooperate with their teachers. And there is no chance to have effective cooperation without having effective communication, which is not always easy to maintain.
This communication helps teachers to be more prepared for their class and to understand the needs of particular students better. It also enables parents to be more deeply involved in their kids’ school life.
Most teachers and parents these days have mobile phones as well as many kids. Today we often seem to view mobile phones as an obstacle to communication! They’re a distraction, loaded with games and opportunities to communicate with friends rather than focussing on what needs to be done. That’s not what they were invented for though. They’re meant to improve communication!
We know that potentially children can use their devices as study tools. Good educational apps can facilitate their learning processes. As can internet access when researching a specific topic. But devices can also be used as a communication tool to improve parent-teacher-child cooperation.
School communication ideas
There are a lot of potential ways in which mobile devices can boost communication. Of course, teachers don’t necessarily want us to be contacting them all the time, so you’ll need to begin a dialogue with your child’s teacher about what is necessary and appropriate in your particular context. What are they comfortable with? What would they consider disruptive or intrusive? Here are some ideas of how you could potentially use your mobile devices to communicate with your child’s teacher (beyond just making calls):
- Messengers and chat apps – whether your preference is for Remind, Viber, Facebook Messenger or something else, use it to exchange short notes with your child’s teacher or to send brief instant notifications to your child when he’s at school. (Sometimes we’re afraid that kids will get distracted by those apps, but that’s one thing we can use parental control apps for).
- Video conference tools – can potentially be used to allow your child to discuss an unclear element of their homework with the teacher. They could also be used for you to discuss their behaviour or some minor conflict situation with the teacher. In this way you can avoid an unnecessary trip to the school over something relatively minor.
- E-mail apps – use email to exchange more detailed notes. We tend to ask teachers to email us copies of any important communication too; paper copies sent home with the kids often seem to go astray.
- Collaborative note taking apps – Evernote is a great note taking tool, but there’s a selection of apps now which do similar things but which are deliberately targeted at the educational world. Google Classroom is widely used, but for including parents in the classwork process I’m a big fan of Seesaw. It’s an overarching system where kids keep their work so that both parents and teachers can access, monitor and give feedback.
- Calendars and planners – create a school calendar for your child (e.g. on Google calendar) and share access with both parents and teachers. Events, homework and project or essay deadlines can all be kept here so that everyone’s on the same page and you can remind your kids about them if they forget.
Do you use mobile technology to improve your school related communication already? What do you use? How does it improve the school experience?