Building Relationships with Students and Parents as a Tutor
With the hustle and bustle of the before school drop-off and after school pick-up, it can be a challenge for tutors to communicate with the parents of the students they serve. This challenge is something, Kelsey Neil, first year Pre-K tutor at Woodland Early Learning Community School in Kansas City, MO, has confronted straight on. By taking advantage of every moment she has to build relationships with parents, Kelsey has engaged and excited the parents as much as the students about literacy. Daily tutor schedules can be busy, so we had to ask “what do you do?” Kelsey shared how she has used her first year as a tutor to involve the parents at her school site with student progress, build literacy awareness outside of the classroom, and ultimately enhance her experience as a tutor through family engagement.
Communicate daily stories and achievements with parents
Creating positive relationships with parents was a goal of mine since the first day of school. Talking with parents at drop off and pick up times has always been important to me. These moments create relationships with parents that make them feel more comfortable communicating with me about their child. In my class, not all parent related communications are focused only on academics. Stories about funny situations, interactions, songs and dance are always at the top of the list to share with parents. Parents are always receptive to hearing about stories related to the child and their personalities! One day during drop off a parent told me he had his daughter practice writing her name. He noted that he didn’t know what she was talking about but she kept making the ‘D’ for her name and kept saying “pull straight down…” I explained to him the script we use to help students learn their letters for their name sign-in. The dad responded that he had never thought about the way we make letters. Since then, we have had a running dialogue about his daughter’s learning and achievements. Having a continuous dialogue with parents has created positive relationships and allows me to have more meaningful conversations regularly.
Coordinate with your classroom teacher about ways to create literacy-based family nights and other activities
The teachers at my site have an hour of planning time each day that allows us to discuss the children and their interests, as well as tailor school projects to what they would be interested in. In particular, we discuss ways to create more of a focus on literacy as well as different ways to increase family involvement. My lead teacher, teaching assistant, and I are currently planning an upcoming Literacy Week. Our plans include having community members and parents read to our class, making a class book, and helping parents sign up for library cards and themed dress-up days. Our goal is to create a fun and engaging way to help parents learn more about literacy and tools that they can use to help their child succeed. We are looking forward to it!
Keep literacy activities and events posted in public locations to inform parents of their child’s work
We have a parent information board in the classroom, as well as a bulletin board in the library center. We post information about activities, events, and ways families can get involved in the classroom, school and community on a regular basis. Providing parents with the information gives them an easy way to find family-friendly activities that promote talking, reading and writing. Highlighting activities – such as the school’s book club, resource programs, and story time at the local public library – helps connect the parents to the school community.
In particular, the information inside the classroom allows parents to see more artwork their child has created and become familiar with the classroom. This creates even more of an opportunity to engage parents and the students in conversation about school and connect to the learning environment. I make sure to post literacy-related work that students have completed so that parents can see the progress their child is making during the year!