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Making connections with parents is a great way to build support for your program. If parents are excited about what their children are getting out of art class, they will be more apt to fight to keep it in schools. Art shows, newsletters and social media are all great ways to connect with parents, but parent-teacher conferences provided a truly special opportunity. At parent-teacher conferences, you can make one-on-one, personal connections with parents. Today I’d like to share 5 ways to do just that.
5 Ways to Connect with Parents at Conferences
1. Make sure that parents come to see you.
At my school, my art room is nowhere near the regular ed classrooms. The location makes it easy for parents to miss me on conference nights. If you’re in the same situation, think about creating an eye-catching sign and ask teachers to put it up in their rooms on conference night. You can even buddy up with your other specials teachers to create one sign that works for everyone. If you want to get really fancy, you could add a map so parents know where to find you. Or, if you just can’t add one more thing to your to-do list, download my customizable version or the PDF version by clicking on the respective links.
2. Let parents see the actual work their students are doing.
When parents come to see you at conferences, one of the best ways you can make a connection is by showing them their student’s artwork. While this can be a huge hassle in terms of planning, I believe it’s worth it. You can talk about a student’s art until you’re blue in the face, but letting parents see and touch what their student has been working on is very powerful. I set my room up in stations so that each grade level has it’s own spot. This makes it much easier when I’m searching for a student’s portfolio.
3. Educate parents about the importance of arts education.
Have you ever had a parent say to you at conferences, “This must be such a fun job!” If so, it’s the perfect opportunity to agree with them, and then direct the conversation to what the arts have to offer. If you’d like to send your parents with a concrete reminder, download the “3 Main Reasons All Students Need Arts Education” right here.
4. Have a survey station set up.
Anytime you involve people in decision-making, it creates better buy-in. So, ask parents: What do they think of the art coming home? What do they like about the art room? Are they visiting your art room blog? What changes would they like to see? While you won’t be able to please everyone, some of the suggestions might surprise you. For example, I found out through a parent survey last year that parents wanted more frequent updates on my blog. I switched up my posting schedule, and have gotten many more visitors.
5. Send them with a parting gift.
Last month, I talked about two easy ways to get your blog address to parents. A business card is a great way to leave parents with a concrete reminder of the art room. If you don’t have a blog, think about what other information you could send with parents. A list of websites where kids can make art online, a list of local art galleries or a list of stores that carry art supplies would all be great choices. You can click here to find out where I send my students to make art online.
With these tips in mind, your next conference time is sure to be a success. Parents will feel more connected with what their students are doing in the art room and may gain a new perspective about the benefits of art education. Who knows, you may even find some new volunteers for your classroom!
How do you connect with parents during conference time?
Are you in your room? The library? Floating around?
We’d love to hear what happens at your school.