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Families are the first and most influential teachers of their children.

Author: Dawn Mitchell


As new teachers, I know many of you are preparing for events that involve meeting your parents and students.  Viewing families as a vital partner in your students’ educational success is essential to developing positive and productive relationships. 

In our back to school kickoff in Spartanburg District 6 we recently had the opportunity to hear Dr. Steve Constantino share a powerful truth that families are the first and most influential teachers of their children.  He challenged us to engage families and to think about our beliefs and responses to every family.   One simple way that has worked for me to get to know my students was to start with their families and to tap into existing funds of knowledge through some simple parent questions.  I want to share a short list of these questions you may want to consider choosing from putting in a short handout for parents to respond to and/or to use in your conversations with parents regarding their children’s strengths and their hopes for this school year.  Please don’t use them all, but consider one or two you’d like to use.  I have added these below for you in case you’d like to use them.

  1. What do you see as your child's greatest strengths or skills?

  2. Tell me about a time when you saw your child demonstrating these skills.Next June, what do you hope your child says about his/her experience in school this year?

  3. What's the story you hope he/she would tell?What was your experience like in this grade?

  4. How do you remember that year of school?What are your fears or concerns about your child in this year of school?

  5. How and when would you like me to be in touch with you this year?

  6. What do you hope I'd communicate with you about?Is there anything else you can tell me about your child that you think would help me support his/her learning?

  7. Is there a question you hope I'll ask you about your child?

I also wanted to share with you a short article with a quick list of 20 tips to help develop positive relationships with your students’ parents. 


Dawn J. Mitchell,

President, SCASCD



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