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 Using Photos to Establish Relationships with Families

1/16/2020 12:00 AM

​They say a picture is worth a thousand words. I agree. A picture can be an excellent tool to use when seeking positive ways to communicate with the parents of our students. I love sharing photos of my students in action at school. This stems from many years ago when I gave a parent a few extra snapshots of her twins at the end of the school year, and she burst into tears. These photos were the very first she ever had of her 3-year-old son and daughter. This experience really opened my eyes to a component of not only working with families from a lower income bracket, but the value of what a few good pictures could do to open doors with families. This mom had been somewhat uninterested in her children’s education for their first year of preschool. The following year, she was much more involved by coming to parent conferences, activities and even volunteering for a field trip. I truly think that those photos opened that door for her to become more interactive in her children’s education.

Teachers struggle to find that one thing that gives them an opening to a positive relationship with their students’ families. On the first day of school, I make a small picture page for each of my kids doing their thing at school. I also do this on special days when we have classroom visitors or if we have a special activity. The students are excited to show the picture page to their families. Parents are always so appreciative to see their child in action at school!

I have a unique situation in that the parents come to school every day to pick up their child. I teach in one of seven Early Childhood classrooms at our child care collaboration site, Circles of Learning. The kids come for child care, and an RPS 205 teacher provides full Early Childhood programming during the school year to those students. I capitalize on the fact that parents are in my building every day by posting a “Daily Photo Bomb” outside my classroom door so parents can see what we were up to that day*. This has been a great way to show families that we do so much more than just babysitting or playing. They see the reasons behind what we do, and it gives them something to talk about with their child at home. Once the daily photo bomb is taken down, it is put into a binder so the kids can revisit our experiences over the course of the year. It is our favorite book for independent reading.

How can you use photos to encourage your families to become more interested and involved at school? I hope you consider giving any ideas you have a try!

*Note: Remember to check your files to make sure students have parental permission be photographed at school.

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