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Written by Stéphanie Dionne, Digital Era Facilitator

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

Creating 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, since their knowledge of their child is enriched by the expertise of the specialists and educators whom they encounter throughout the school year. 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 in order to better support students with a learning disability. 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 Google forms were 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.

Communicating 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 communication with parents is to identify the child’s disruptive behaviours or poor performance. Instead of only communicating bad news to parents, 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 and the Weekly Learning Summary is to help students understand how they learn by fostering a growth mindset in them and developing their emotional intelligence.

These two templates can be adapted as necessary to the needs of students with LDs. As alternatives to writing, you can use video or audio recordings, or a visual design tool such as Canva. All of these can be accommodated in a space that parents can access, such as a digital portfolio or a digital working environment like Google Classroom or Microsoft 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. Each learning step will become a source of pride that will develop self-esteem in students with LDs, who will be the ones to identify the challenges that they want to tackle. The interventions to be prioritized and implemented at school or at home will target the child’s needs more effectively. School-family communications will thus become positive experiences for the school team, the students and their parents.

Strong school-family relationships have positive impacts on the well-being and success of all youth!