Creating a counselor parent relationship at the beginning of the year is super important. Parents are experts on their children. They know their kids better than anyone else and can articulate their children’s needs while advocating for services. Open communication between a counselor and parents allows us to build an effective program that meets the needs of those students.
When thinking about how you want to connect with parents consider these questions:
What do you want the parent/counselor relationship to look like? How will that be achieved?
How will you communicate vital information about your program that may help their child?
How can you make parents feel like their opinions matter and are important?
Counselor Parent Relationship
Start by thinking about what exactly you want the counselor parent relationship to look like and how you will achieve that relationship. How often do you want to reach out to parents? What do you want that communication to look like? What forms of communication work best for you?
Creating a communication plan that works best for you, your program and your schedule can maximize your ability to reach and inform parents. At a minimum, reach out to parents at the beginning, the middle and end of the school year. There are many ways to reach out to parents and promote your counseling program; below are some examples of how you can achieve your parent/counselor relationship goals.
Beginning of the Year Connection
It is important to introduce yourself and your services at the beginning of the year so parents know that they have you as a resource. Some common ways to connect with parents at the beginning of the year are:
- Presence at Parent Night and/or Open House. You could have a booth, give a presentation or create a flyer that all teachers give to parents. Get creative!
- Introduction Article in School Newsletter or on School Website.
- Introduction on School Social Media.
- Meet the Counselor Days. These are specific days and time set aside (much like office hours) that any parent can come in and meet with you or ask questions about your program.
- Presentation at SAC/PTO Meeting.
- Coffee with the Counselor during the first week of school.
Cultivating the Connection
Monthly or midyear reminders of your counseling program can help you communicate vital information about your program to parents. Giving information to parents helps them to understand that you are a phenomenal resource with a wealth of knowledge that can help their child.
During the year, family dynamics may change, crisis situations can occur and traumatic situations may shake their lives. These reminders of your program can help encourage a newly struggling family to reach out.
Some ways to keep the connection alive are:
- Counselor Parent Workshops for Hot Topics Parents Should Know (such as Dangerous Social Media Apps).
- Monthly Social Media Shout Outs about Counseling Program.
- Monthly School Newsletter Blurbs or School Website Articles.
- Monthly Counselor Newsletter.
- Classroom Guidance Lesson Handouts for Parents.
- Phone Calls Home.
- Monthly Counselor Connection Activities. This could be a booth in conjunction with a parent invited event already occurring at school or a counselor specific event such as coffee with the counselor, counselor days, etc.
Parent opinions can help drive your program goals. If parents feel as if their opinions matter and are important to you, they will be more willing to communicate with you and be an active participant in your counseling program. Assessing parent and community needs can help you to incorporate necessary components that help your students in specific. Ways to assess the needs of parents and students can come in the form of:
- Needs Assessment
- Google Doc Survey
- SAC/PTO Meetings
How do you connect with parents in your building? What suggestions do you have that may help others foster a mutually beneficial parent/counselor relationship?
Check out this post to be prepared for uncomfortable conversations with parents this year.