Three Simple Ways to Grow Strong Relationships with Parents

We all know how important it is to build and maintain healthy relationships with parents. Parents can be strong allies, supporting art programs in various ways. Parents often provide donations, volunteer at events, and chaperone field trips. In addition, students often get their attitudes about art from home. These relationships can make or break your art program.

Knowing these relationships are important is the first step. Taking the steps to establish and maintain strong parent relationships can be difficult, though. With lesson planning, displaying artworks, meetings, and all the other demands of teaching, it can seem like there is no time left to reach out to parents.

Here are several easy ways to grow strong relationships with parents.

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1. Start on Day One

Right at the beginning of the year, set the tone with parents during your Back to School Night. Provide them with a clear overview of the valuable skills students will be developing in the art room. Set up a hands-on activity to provide parents with an idea of the projects you will be teaching in the coming school year. Provide them with a list of materials that you would like to have donated.

Back to School Night is also the best time to let parents know about volunteering opportunities. Set up sign-ups for field trips. Survey parents about what skills they might want to share with your students. I once had a parent visit my class and create a quilt with my students. I learned of her interest at Back to School Night.

This may be the only time you meet your students’ parents, so make it count! Above all, be positive and enthusiastic about sharing the details of your program.

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2. Communication is Key

In order to establish strong relationships with parents, communication is key. Parents want to know what is going on in their child’s class. They also want to know how they can support the school. Making sure parents are in the know about your program is important.

Here are some simple ways to communicate with parents.

  • Positive Calls Home
    Don’t wait for a problem to call home. Try to call parents toward the beginning of the year. Introduce yourself, answer their questions and share something positive about their child. That way, if there are problems later on, you have already established a positive relationship.
  • Newsletters
    Newsletters are a time-tested way to communicate with parents. Whether through email or on paper, this is a great way to ensure parents know what is happening in the art room. This does not have to be lengthy. One page each month is all it takes to make parents aware of what students are doing in art. This is a great opportunity to inform parents of ways they can support the art program as well.
  • Social Media
    In addition to traditional methods of communication, why not set up a Facebook or Instagram page for your classes? A blog is also a great tool to share all the great things happening in the art room. I have found that this is the preferred method of communication for many parents. These platforms allow for quick, easy communication. Make sure to check your school’s policy on social media before setting up your page.

student work that highlights why art is important

3. Events

Events are another great way to build a strong rapport with parents. Every school community is different, and the nature of these events can vary greatly. Youth Art Month shows, family art nights, collaborative art projects, the list goes on and on.

Try to provide at least one time during the year when your program is highlighted. Make sure parents are involved in celebrating the hard work of their students. I have found parents are eager to participate in these events. They provide an opportunity for parents to build a deeper understanding of what happens in art class. Working with your PTA to develop these events allows for another opportunity to grow these important relationships.

Parents are the most important supporters of your art program. So send a newsletter home each month, have parent guest speakers, or hold a Youth Art Month show. You will find parents are interested in helping, and the support you receive will enrich your program.

How do you communicate with parents?

What are some additional methods you use to build strong relationships with parents?

Anne-Marie Slinkman

Anne-Marie teaches elementary art in Virginia. She is a life-long learner who is passionate about providing relevant and meaningful art experiences for all students.

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