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Answered by Stéphanie Dionne, Digital Era Facilitator

The quality of a teacher-parent relationship has a direct impact on student well-being and success. In fact, it has been shown that, among other things, a collaboration between teachers, support staff, and parents enhances interventions with students, including those with learning or adjustment difficulties, and builds better student-teacher relationships. How can educators communicate effectively with the parents of students with learning disabilities (LDs) or special needs to improve the quality of school-family partnerships? Here are two strategies for developing effective communication:

Create a two-way communication channel with parents

Goal: To simplify information gathering for the purpose of obtaining a representative picture of each student’s well-being and learning experience.

The parents of children with LDs or special needs are indispensable allies for teachers. They have a very detailed picture of their child and their knowledge is enriched by the expertise of the specialists and support workers they encounter throughout their child’s education, both inside and outside of the school environment. How can consistency in interventions be ensured?

For effective communication on a continuous basis during the school year, using a two-way communication channel in a structured manner can make it easier to collect the necessary and relevant information to better support students with LDs. In this way, it is possible to obtain a snapshot of the class and of each student regarding their well-being and learning experience, at the desired frequency (every week, at the end of each term, or every month).

The following questionnaires were adapted from a set of Google forms, designed by Ms. Myra Auvergnat-Ringuette, a primary school teacher, and can be copied free of charge and personalized as needed. Students can answer the questions directly or with the help of their parents.

Communicate with parents regarding their child’s successes, achievements, and strengths

Goal: To foster positive communication with parents by building a positive image of their child.

Very often, the goal of meetings or communications with parents is to identify their child’s disruptive behaviours or poor performance. Instead, focus your communications on the child’s successes, achievements, and strengths. Your conversations will become empowering in addition to being a source of pride for the students and their parents. Two different tools are available to ensure a student-centered learning experience and to cultivate independent learning. The aim of the Individual Success Plan (click here to make a copy of the google doc) and the Weekly Learning Summary (click here to make a copy of the google doc) is to help students understand how they learn by fostering a growth mindset in them and developing their emotional intelligence.

Use these two templates while maintaining flexibility and adapting their format to the needs of your students with LDs. Instead of writing their answers in the template, students can respond using video or audio recordings, Sketchnote, or a visual design tool, such as Canva. All these forms of media can be accommodated in a digital space that parents can access, such as a portfolio or a working environment, like Classroom or Teams.

Use these tools as a guide for your school-family communications and to support each of your students based on who they are, how they see themselves, and what they wish to become. When students with LDs are able to identify for themselves the challenges they wish to overcome, each learning step becomes a source of pride and self-esteem. By consistently checking in with students, you can also target interventions more effectively to the child’s need and ensure uniform implementation at school and at home. Over time, school-family communications will become positive experiences for the school team, the students, and their parents.

School-family partnerships have positive impacts on the well-being and success of all youth!



school family partnership

Stéphanie Dionne is the mother of three children and has contributed for 18 years to technology integration in the field of education. Today, she is a Digital Era Facilitator and a member of the L’École branchée sur la famille team. Stéphanie strongly believes in the leadership potential of parents and teachers, and in their ability to come together as co-educators to create dynamic and up-to-date learning contexts for youth. She also coaches parents in the digital era and suggests drafting a parentchild contract regarding the use of digital devices at La famille de ma vie - Coaching.