Barriers to effective communication between teachers and parents

Thursday, 25 April 2024 by Weduc

Overcoming the barriers to communication between teachers and parents

When it comes to improving student outcomes, strong parent-teacher relationships are absolutely fundamental. In fact, effective communication between parents and teachers has been linked to academic achievement as well as pupils’ personal, social, and emotional development.

Positive communication between parents and teachers can enable parents to support their child’s education at home. Whether that’s by proactively tackling behavioural issues or engaging them in discussions on topics they’re learning about. Similarly, parents can inform teachers of any issues at home that may be impacting their child’s ability to engage, meaning that teachers can ensure the child receives any additional support they need.

As a result, many schools are implementing communication strategies to encourage and foster this type of communication. But of course, doing so isn’t as simple as it sounds. So, what barriers are schools facing in fostering positive communication between parents and teachers and what can they do about it? Keep reading to find out.


The impact of poor communication

Sometimes positive communication between certain parents and teachers has just never existed. Other times, this relationship may break down. In either situation, this can be damaging for all parties as teachers trying to support a child feel demoralised, parents feel unheard and powerless, and the child’s education suffers as a result.

This is because the most powerful impact of positive communication is the support network it creates for a child. When a child is being supported in their learning both at school and at home, they are free to achieve their full potential. In contrast, without that encouragement in place, the child can even end up missing school.

Children can’t really be expected to understand the importance of getting an education. They are simply too young to grasp the formative effect their education will have on the rest of their lives. So, they need adults with perspective, who care for them, to steer them through the journey.


Where does the problem really lie?

Interestingly, in a recent survey we found that both schools and parents are looking for more active cooperation from the other party when it comes to engagement.

Indeed, schools have stated that they feel communications between parents and teachers are a thankless task. Many parents just don’t respond to school requests, meaning messages never get seen, school staff have to work additionally hard to get through, and parents get annoyed. All the while, pupils are missing out on having the benefits of parents involved in their education.

Clearly then, there’s a balance to be struck between message frequency, channels used and the types of communications being delivered. But there are other perspectives here as well. In fact, a 2021 report showed that 85% of parents want to play an active role in their child’s education.

So, this miscommunication doesn’t seem to be to do with a lack of intention on either side. Which begs the question – what are the barriers getting in the way of effective parent teacher communication?


The barriers to effective parent teacher communication 

  1. Work demands and lack of time

In a cost of living crisis that doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, most parents have multiple work and family commitments. It seems understandable then that engaging in their child’s education is another expectation they might just not have time for.

This can result in a lack of attendance in typical events designed to engage parents, such as parents’ evenings, or sporting events. And a lack of responsiveness to communications, which makes it seem as though parents don’t want to be involved. Which, as we know from research, simply isn’t the case.

  1. Language barriers

An estimated 18% of pupils in UK schools have English as an Additional Language (EAL). Naturally, this means that their parents are unlikely to speak English as a first language. Indeed, many pupils may actively translate for their family members, making parents dependent on their children to interpret and respond to school messages. This, of course, is far from ideal when parents and teachers need to be able to discuss a child or a situation privately.

  1. Previous negative experiences 

Of course, parents are people in their own right and will have had their own formative experiences of school that may not have been positive. Because of this, they may lack the confidence to get involved in their child’s education, and could find school events intimidating and school messages overwhelming. So, it’s important to be mindful that parents may struggle to get involved because of their own fears and insecurities.

  1. Too many communication channels

Finally, many schools use a hotchpotch of different communication channels to engage with parents, from emails and texts to in-app messaging, social media, the school website and more. This use of different communication tools lacks strategy and can confuse parents as to where to go for important school information. It also makes it hard for schools to track and understand what has been read by parents.


Eliminating the barriers to communication

By far the simplest way to cut through the noise is to use a parental engagement app like ReachMoreParents that can deliver instant notifications straight to parents’ phones. Whether it’s a parents’ evening reminder or an update on their child’s progress in a subject, a school communications app can keep every notification and message in one place for parents to check whenever they need.

Plus, a digital communications app like ReachMoreParents can be tailored based on language preferences, to ensure EAL families can easily be included. It can also give parents who are intimidated by school events a way to engage from a safe distance. Through ReachMoreParents, they can even see photo updates from their child’s classes via a social media style newsfeed, or reach out to teachers directly.

In short, a school communications app like ReachMoreParents gives schools the ability to reach out seamlessly and keep everything, from school meal menus to reports, all in one place. And it puts parents in the driver’s seat when it comes to how they want to stay in touch with their child’s teachers on a regular basis.


What else can ReachMoreParents offer?

At ReachMoreParents, we do more than parent-teacher communications. In fact, we’ve developed a whole range of products that integrate seamlessly with the Reach More Parents platform and are designed to tackle the problems unique to schools like yours. Including our Parent App, Attendance Tracking App, Homework App, Parents’ Evening System, and custom branded apps for schools.

To find out more about how to overcome the barriers to parent teacher communication with our range of software for schools, click here to book a discovery call at a time that suits you or drop us a line via our enquiry form.



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