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Building Strong Relationships with Parents


The main aim of education is to give children the best possible opportunities and prepare them for their future so they have a happy, fulfilling and successful life. To ensure children have the best possible education and increase their chances of academic success, educators and parents need to have a positive relationship and form a strong alliance, as both parties play a key role in children’s educational journeys.

When parents and educators have positive relationships, it can have many benefits, which are well documented. It can benefit children academically, socially and emotionally and also benefit parents and educators (Eldridge, 2001). It can help build relationships based on trust and mutual respect and provide much-needed support to all involved. Ofsted, in their research, found that poor relationships with parents can cause stress and anxiety.

According to a 2021 report by Parentkind, 85% of parents want to play an active role in their children’s education. Therefore, educators should encourage this involvement and promote strong parent-educator relationships. This blog post aims to provide insights and guidance on building strong and effective connections with parents and why it is significant.

Building Strong Relationships with Parents

The Significance of Parent-Educator Relationships

A relationship is “the way in which two or more people or groups regard and behave towards each other” (Oxford Dictionaries). When relationships between parents and educators are strong, they can openly, honestly and consistently communicate, and there is trust and respect between the two parties.

Strong relationships between educators and parents play a crucial role in the educational, social and emotional development of children, and here are some reasons why:

  • Educators can make parents aware of how their children are progressing, their strengths and the areas in which they need to improve. They can also provide more general information to parents on how children can learn and develop outside of the classroom so they can provide a suitable home learning environment (Murphy et al, 2021). Educators can provide parents with much-needed support to help their children with their learning journey.
  • Parents know and understand their children the best. Therefore, educators can get valuable insights from parents about their children, learning styles and interests, and overall needs. Understanding these aspects can help educators during teaching and provide holistic support to children within the educational setting.
  • Children are likely to be more engaged with their learning if they feel supported by their parents within the home environment and educators within an educational setting. It also helps children by providing a consistent learning environment with everyone on the same page and working towards the same goals.
  • Parents and educators are influential in children’s lives. By working together, they can support children’s emotional and social development and help them to develop into happy, healthy, kind, respectful and courteous adults (Education Support). It provides a cocaring relationship that bridges the gap between home and the educational setting (Lang et al, 2020).
  • Parents and educators can work together to promptly address any problems if there are any emotional concerns regarding children’s learning/behavioural issues or academic struggles. By working as a team, they can support children’s stress, anxiety and other emotional and social challenges.
  • Positive between parents and educators can help children interact with others and improve their social skills and externalising behaviours (Minke et al, 2014).

Research conducted by the University of Sussex and data from 10,000 students found that a combination of strong school-family relationships and high levels of school satisfaction boosts young people’s academic success.

Building Strong Relationships with Parents

Communication as the Foundation

Open communication is where information is successfully shared, and both parties can express their ideas, feelings and thoughts. Communication is effective when the person receiving the message understands it. Open and effective communication have an essential role in building and maintaining strong relationships between parents and educators as it:

  • Makes everyone involved feel more comfortable if they can openly talk and discuss.
  • Helps parents know they can approach educators with any concerns or questions.
  • Encourages parents to collaborate with educators, as they will feel their perspectives are valued, and it makes them feel heard.
  • Enables educators to gain invaluable insights into children’s needs so they can tailor their teaching strategies.
  • Ensures everyone’s goals are aligned regarding a child’s education and avoids conflicts and misunderstandings.
  • Allows parents and educators to address any concerns and challenges early.
  • Makes children feel supported at home and school, enhancing their learning and cognitive, social and emotional development.
  • Builds trust and mutual respect, as everyone will feel involved.

Here are some tips that educators can adopt to establish clear lines of communication with parents:

Be welcoming, warm and approachable – parents are more likely to communicate with educators if they feel comfortable approaching, talking and discussing things with them. Educators should create a warm and welcoming atmosphere. It is also vital to demonstrate a genuine interest in their children’s education, safety and well-being.

Start early – educators should start as they mean to go on and establish open and clear lines of communication early in the school year. It will demonstrate to parents that educators value their involvement in their children’s education.

Actively listen – listen intently to what parents say and their opinions and concerns and give them full attention without judgment. To actively listen when talking to parents, educators should:

  • Reflect on what they heard.
  • Repeat what they have said to check accuracy.
  • Ask questions to check understanding.
  • Avoid distractions when talking to them to show interest.
  • Use posture, body language, eye contact, facial expressions and tone of voice to indicate a willingness to listen.
  • Summarise to demonstrate that they were heard and understood.

Use two-way communication – instead of giving directives to parents or just sending emails, educators should ensure they use two-way communication, which means both parties receive and transmit information and ideas.

Be clear, concise and respectful – educators must be clear and transparent when communicating with parents, as it builds trust and avoids misunderstandings and uncertainties. They should provide information so parents can understand and use easily understood language and avoid professional jargon that could confuse them. They should also be respectful and empathetic when talking to parents, even during conflicts and challenges.

Provide regular updates – children’s learning journeys and educational progress are not static, so educators need to provide parents with regular updates on how their children are doing. They could have conversations over the phone or via conference calls or use school websites, emails, social media, forums or newsletters. Using various methods of communication will ensure parents are kept well-informed.

Hold feedback sessions – educators can meet with parents or hold feedback sessions, such as parent-teacher conferences, to discuss children’s progress, any issues or challenges, and other topics where necessary. It can be a useful forum to give feedback to parents and receive it from them.

Educators must make parents aware of the communication channels and use their preferred methods wherever possible so they do not miss any essential information regarding their children’s education.

Building Strong Relationships with Parents

Building Trust and Transparency

Trust is “to believe that someone is good and honest and will not harm you, or that something is safe and reliable” (Cambridge Dictionary). Trust is essential in any relationship, especially between educators and parents. It is hard to earn and keep and difficult to get back once it has gone. Educators must build rapport and develop trusting relationships with parents as research has shown that it can enhance students’ interest in subjects and improve their overall academic performance.

Many factors can erode parents’ trust in educators and the overall education system, which can cause conflict, such as:

  • Keeping parents in the dark on important issues regarding their children’s education, health, safety and well-being.
  • Parents having negative past experiences in their own educational journey, e.g. judged by teachers.
  • Poor communication and not being transparent and honest.
  • Parents feeling the school and educators do not have their or their children’s best interests at heart and a misalignment of goals.

Trust between the education system and parents remains an issue. Research by Parentkind found that despite three-quarters (76%) of parents wanting input on a range of issues, at the school level, only a fifth (18%) of parents of children in local authority maint ained schools strongly agree that their school listens to them and only 8% in academy schools. Educators must listen to parents and ensure they balance the requests of parents with their statutory duties (Department for Education).

Here are some examples of strategies educators can adopt to maintain transparency and honesty in all interactions:

  • Use open communication – it is essential to communicate effectively with parents and use the method that works for them, e.g. phone calls, emails or face-to-face, and their availability. Starting communication at the start of the school year will set a good precedent. It is also important to consider how to communicate with families of different backgrounds and where English is their second language.
  • Get to know parents – if an educator cannot even remember a parent’s name, developing a relationship with them will be difficult. Educators should learn parents’ names, ask questions and find out more about their general backgrounds to increase openness and build trust. However, it is important to maintain boundaries.
  • Follow through with promises – if an educator says they will do something, they need to do it so parents will trust that they will follow through. If educators fail to do what they say they will do, it is likely to show a lack of interest and integrity.
  • Be consistent and transparent – educators should clearly and honestly communicate with parents about the expectations of all parties, policies and procedures and curriculum details. They should also inform parents of how to communicate any concerns or complaints.
  • Create a good first impression – educators should be warm, welcoming and respectful whenever interacting with parents, especially during initial encounters. A poor attitude and standoffishness will prevent trust and a relationship from being built.
  • Be empathetic – educators should demonstrate empathy, i.e. considering the perspectives of parents and their children and imagining being in their shoes. Even if parents can be challenging, it is important to recognise there may be reasons for this, such as past experiences and stresses at home. Understanding and letting them know they have a support network goes a long way to building trust.
  • Be positive – if educators are negative every time they speak to parents and give bad news, it can be difficult to strengthen relationships. Educators should emphasise the positive and focus on student’s achievements as well as addressing any worries or concerns. They should also use positive reinforcement, which rewards positive behaviours.

There are some further tips on building trusting relationships here.

Building Strong Relationships with Parents

Understanding Parent Perspectives

Empathy is an important quality to have. When a person has empathy, they can:

  • Emotionally understand and share the feelings, thoughts and experiences of others.
  • See things from other people’s perspectives and put aside judgements.
  • Imagine themselves in someone else’s position.
  • Listen to others with compassion and communicate understanding.

If educators have empathy, it can help establish a foundation of trust and respect, as they will demonstrate a genuine interest in what parents have to say, acknowledge their perspectives and concerns and value their input. It creates a supportive environment that considers the needs of parents and children and strengthens the partnerships and connections between home and school. Also, having empathy can help educators when it comes to having difficult conversations with parents.

Active listening (as discussed earlier on) and acknowledging parents’ feelings and opinions are important in building parent-educator relationships. Here are some ways that educators can achieve this:

  • Listen and not just hear – listening and understanding are very different from just hearing someone speak. To be empathetic, educators must really listen to what parents say without interrupting them and judgment. It may help to take some notes, with permission from the parent(s), to ensure that they do not miss key points and demonstrate to parents their opinions and feelings are valued.
  • Understand where they are coming from – being a parent is no easy feat, and there may be challenges at home and/or in the educational setting that affect learning and progress and may be the cause of children’s behavioural issues. Parents may also have their own challenges and problems with their physical or mental health and well-being. Educators should try to understand why they feel the way they do.
  • Provide reassurance – parents want to feel listened to and will want to be reassured if they have any complaints or concerns. Educators should reassure parents that their feelings and opinions will be acted upon and let them know how this will be actioned and by whom and when. It is also important to follow up with them, even if the issue has been passed to someone else.
  • Give parents a voice – as stated, the research by Parentkind found that many parents do not feel listened to but want more input. Education providers and educators could provide various forums for parents to have more say and provide feedback.
  • Offer help – often, just lending an ear can be enough. However, there may be instances where parents want some help with their children’s behavioural or academic issues or problems at home. It does not mean educators get involved in every issue, but they may need to signpost to other means of help and support.

It is important to note that empathy is not the same as sympathy, and educators do not have to lower their expectations or allow parents to treat them disrespectfully or permit abusive and threatening behaviour. They can still be firm and fair but understand that there may be reasons for the behaviours.

Building Strong Relationships with Parents

Involving Parents in Their Child’s Education

Parent involvement is key to children’s educational success. According to EEF, when parents are engaged in their children’s educational journey, it has a positive impact on an average of 4 months’ additional progress. GOV.UK also states that “research shows that involving parents and carers in their children’s learning is the most important factor in enabling some children to do well regardless of background”.

There are numerous ways in which educators can involve parents in their children’s learning journeys, such as:

Parent-teacher conferences

  • These are also known as parent-teacher meetings and happen occasionally throughout the year. Even though it can be nerve-wracking for educators and parents, they are a fantastic way to get parents involved.
  • Twinkl has further information and tips on making these conferences a success here.

Volunteering opportunities

  • Educators could encourage parents’ active involvement through volunteering. They could offer opportunities such as:
  • Assisting with assignments and tests.
  • Joining a parent-teacher association (PTA) or other groups.
  • Helping to run activities and clubs.
  • Doing classroom tasks, such as reading and supporting students.
  • Supervising school trips.
  • Becoming parent trustees or governors.

Collaborative homework

  • Educators could set homework tasks requiring parents to participate, e.g. parents could take their children to a local nature reserve and teach them about plants and wildlife.
  • It can also be useful for parents, as they will learn things too!

Create a community

  • Education providers could offer various classes for parents, workshops and other services in educational settings to get them through the door.
  • Educators could organise various events to get parents and children together, e.g. reading cafes, magazine clubs and fairs.
  • There are also online communities, which can provide an avenue for communication, expressing ideas and putting forward suggestions, e.g. conference calls, forums, blogs and social media groups. These can be great for busy parents to help keep them in the loop.
  • Recognise the barriers some parents may face, such as culture and language.

Information sharing

  • Regularly sharing information with parents on their children’s progress and development and what they are currently being taught can help parents offer something similar in the home learning environment (UK).

Home visits

  • If parents agree, home visits can be useful, as they bridge the gap between the educational setting and the home. It will make parents feel that educators care about their children and family, which can help build relationships.

Do not give up

  • Educators should not give up at the first hurdle. It can often take time for some parents to get involved, and there may be other challenges along the way. Trying various imaginative ways of getting parents involved and asking them how they would like to be involved is more likely to work. Perseverance is key.

Collaborative decision-making is where educators, parents and other interested parties come together to make decisions, reach a consensus and achieve goals. It is beneficial as parents and educators can better understand children’s needs, preferences and challenges and address any issues together. Working together can provide a supportive environment for children, nurturing their growth and development, increase the chances of better educational outcomes and enhance their social and emotional skills.

Education is a joint effort, and everyone should be invested to ensure educational goals are aligned. Having shared and inclusive decision-making can help achieve these goals and foster positive relationships between everyone involved. Overall, it results in better decision-making and enhanced well-being in educators, parents and children.

Building Strong Relationships with Parents

Addressing Concerns and Conflicts

Conflicts often arise between educators and parents because they feel they are being excluded or not listened to or due to poor communication, misaligned goals and misunderstandings. Some parents can be challenging and demanding and even aggressive and threatening in some cases. Educators should prevent conflicts, where possible, by open and clear communication, honesty and transparency and parental involvement.

Emotions can run high when children are involved, parents will have various concerns, and there will be disagreements and conflicts that educators must navigate and handle calmly and constructively. They can do this by:

  • Being aware of non-verbal communication, such as tone of voice, body language and word choice. For example, raising voices or shaking fists can be aggressive and rolling eyes shows boredom and irritation, which can escalate situations. Educators should speak slowly and calmly, use neutral language, maintain eye contact and not use facial expressions or body language that conveys negative emotions.
  • Actively listening, openly communicating and being empathetic, as covered earlier. Educators should listen carefully to parent’s concerns, not interrupt, ask open questions and clarify what they have said. Also, they should understand things from their perspective and try putting themselves in their position. It is crucial to avoid making accusations, assumptions or judgements. They should let parents have their say, even if they disagree.
  • Focus on the issue and cause of the conflict or disagreement rather than on the parent’s emotions, and never use personal attacks. It is not to say that educators should ignore parents’ feelings and emotions, as they should acknowledge them. However, not focusing on the emotional aspects will help educators remain calm and not take it personally.
  • Take time to think of a response rather than jumping in. If an educator responds via letter or email, they should write a draft and return to it a few hours later. They may feel different and be able to write a more constructive and calmer message.

It is in children’s best interests for educators and parents to resolve conflicts and disagreements by finding a solution where everyone is satisfied. Here are some examples of conflict resolution strategies they can adopt:

  • Follow the educational settings’ policies, procedures, rules and training for conflict resolution, which should be based on statutory guidance.
  • Discuss the issue in a safe space that is agreeable to both parties, but be mindful of safety if there is a risk of aggression and threatening behaviour.
  • Clarify and agree on the aims of the conversation and the goals to achieve. Set some ground rules, such as blame avoidance. Start the conversation with what is agreed upon to find common ground.
  • Look at it as a brainstorming exercise and discuss creative solutions. Allow parents to be heard and respect their points of view. However, educators should also be assertive to have their say but not forceful.
  • Always remain calm, professional and impartial, and maintain boundaries. Be willing to compromise to reach an agreement and recognise that some battles are not worth fighting.
  • Involve others where necessary, such as school administration, and get further advice from colleagues if there is time to plan how to respond. They may be able to provide alternative solutions and have other ideas.

To prevent conflicts and disagreements and build trust, educators should openly communicate and keep parents informed about their children’s progress, classroom activities and curriculum goals.

Building Strong Relationships with Parents

Celebrating Successes and Milestones

It is important to celebrate children’s achievements, no matter how small or big, and communicate them to parents. It can increase children’s confidence and boost their self-esteem, enhancing their engagement and learning and reinforcing positive behaviours. It can also make parents proud of their children, encourage involvement, and foster better parent-educator relationships.

Parents have an essential role in supporting their children’s learning and overall education, and their involvement can lead to better academic outcomes (EEF). Therefore, parent’s contributions to their children’s education should be recognised, appreciated and encouraged. Here are some ideas of how educators can do this:

  • Ask parents to contribute – to showcase their backgrounds, knowledge, experiences and skills. They could invite parents to talk to a class about their lives or use their expertise to help with classes or specific projects.
  • Be creative – to highlight parent’s contributions to their children’s education. Educators could have a parent appreciation section in a newsletter or have an online forum or blog where they express their gratitude to parents. They could also get students involved with the project and get creative.
  • Provide regular feedback – on their children’s achievements, challenges and progress. Feedback should emphasise the positives and be constructive if there are any issues. It is important to highlight parent’s role in their children’s learning, development and academic success. Educators could send appreciation messages to parents.
  • Ask parents for regular feedback – to make them feel involved in their children’s education, they are listened to, and their perspectives are valued. Educators could ask for their ideas or opinions via interviews, focus groups and surveys. They could also encourage parents to share their own experiences, stories and challenges in education and what improvements they would have liked to have seen.
  • Organise celebratory events – to celebrate parent’s contributions and student’s successes. Educators could introduce awards for the best contribution or suggestions or have parent appreciation weeks. They could also organise fairs, presentations and exhibitions to showcase student’s work and ask for parent’s feedback.
Building Strong Relationships with Parents

Continuous Improvement

Establishing a trusting relationship with parents is one thing, but maintaining it is another. There is always room for parent-educator relationships to be improved and strengthened, and educators have the potential to improve them (Murphy et al, 2021). As already discussed, positive parent-educator relationships are essential for open communication, collaboration and shared decision-making. It will benefit all involved and enhance children’s learning, development, and educational experiences and outcomes.

Educators should seek feedback from parents on their practices so they can make improvements to enhance parent-educator relationships and for other reasons, such as:

  • Increasing understanding of children’s home environments, learning styles and needs to tailor teaching strategies and support and make provision holistic.
  • Identifying where parents can contribute to their children’s learning, behaviour and challenges to reinforce important concepts.
  • Identifying where children need additional support so educators can provide it in the classroom.
  • Improving their teaching style and incorporating various learning methods to enhance classroom engagement and student motivation.

Constructive feedback can help educators monitor and evaluate their practices and make the educational setting successful. Parenta has some tips on getting better feedback from parents here.

Building Strong Relationships with Parents


Parents and educators have an essential role in children’s learning and development. Having positive relationships built on trust and mutual respect makes children feel they have a strong support network, enhances their learning and increases their chances of educational and life success. It helps parents to support their children’s learning at home and makes them feel they are listened to and their perspectives matter. It also benefits educators to tailor their teaching strategies and support as they will understand families better.

Establishing a positive relationship requires open communication, transparency, honesty, collaboration and shared-decision making. Educators should provide regular feedback to parents and encourage their views and involvement. They should find constructive ways of dealing with conflicts, concerns and disagreements. It is also important to focus on the positives and celebrate children’s achievements, no matter how big or small, and also treat parents as valuable education partners.

As discussed earlier, poor relationships with parents can be a source of anxiety and stress for educators, which is why it is vital to invest time and effort in nurturing connections with parents. It can also help improve teaching practices and bridge the gap between the classroom and home. Ultimately, everyone involved in children’s education is working towards the same goal – to ensure that children have access to good quality education and learning opportunities to have the best possible chances in life and grow into happy and healthy adults.

Building Strong Relationships with Parents
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