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Dr. Tisha Shipley has been in education for 17 years. She has taught Pre-K, Kindergarten, Gifted and Talented 3rd-6th Grades, Dr. Shipley was an elementary principal, a cheer coach, and was on...
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Tips For Building Relationships Inside and Outside the Classroom

Before school starts it is important that you, as the early childhood professional, teacher/leader, begin building relationships.  There are many things you are probably already doing, but this new year, start thinking outside the box on new ways to build relationships not only with the students in your classroom, but with the families also.

New things to try in your classroom this year:

1: Send a welcome postcard as soon as you get your classroom list.  This shows families that you care and want to get to know them.

2. Make phone calls to families before school starts and introduce yourself.  Figure out what your families need and want from you and for their child this year.

3. Hold a back to school night and be organized with information about your classroom environment, procedures, ideas and things you will do throughout the year.  Have families fill out a family questionnaire before they leave.  Have your children fill out or help them fill out an interest inventory.

4. Hold a Parent Party every month of the school year, more ideas for parent parties.

5. Have professional Early Childhood social media accounts set up for families to follow that provide practical tips, resources and ideas for families to work with children at home.

6. Have Monday Moms, Friday Fathers, teas with grandparents, Grandparent volunteers/favorite person day, family days, special days for families.  This shows families that you have an open door policy.

7. Family Thank you’ s where you hold a picnic and thank all families for sharing their children with you. You can also send home a thank you note for raising a great child.  Even if families can’t volunteer you are still showing them that you care and you appreciate what they do bring to the classroom.

8. Create a family friendly learning environment.

9. Set up a family library with books about cooking, resources that can help them, and books about being a healthy family.

10. Make a welcome packet that is informative, engaging, and shows families you care.  Make sure to have a “What’s Happening” each week so that families understand and are informed about what is happening in the classroom.

11. Build a classroom community of learners, where children help you set expectations and consequences, each person has a job to do each day and where everyone is cheered on to success.  Children will trust not only you, but others and know it is ok to make mistakes, take risks and engage in the learning  process.

12. Send home each month a “Skills we are working  on”.  This list provides families with exactly what you have been working on and what they can help their child with.   This shows families that you want them to know what is going on in the classroom.

13. Keep an ALL YEAR portfolio with all types of artifacts that show a child’s growth (Pictures, handprint calendar, writing, cutting and letter and number practice etc).  There are many forms of electronic portfolios you can also use Kaymbu is one great one.

14. Provide Family Learning bags for families instead of homework.

15. Have a classroom schedule that is organized, consistent and allows time for large group, small group, on-on-one time, centers, free play, outside, fine motor, gross motor and differentiated instruction for all students. This allows students to get to know you and their peers.

16. Assess your students and provide lessons and curriculum that are reflective so they are able to move forward.  Give families feedback on how their students are doing frequently.

17. Be a role model, show empathy, set high expectations for not only yourself but for your students and plan ahead.  This teaches students how to not only do these things, but they will follow your lead on how to treat others.

18. Use thematic units and an integrated approach to learning so that you incorporate your students interests.  These can be and should be used throughout the entire curriculum and day.

19. Try classroom mascots.  Make these your own, and unique.  Children are excited about meeting the new mascots and there are numerous thing can do with each mascot including cooking in the classroom and daily messages.

These are only a few ways that you can begin building relationships this year with your families and students. Many of these you are probably already doing, but choose one that you haven’t tried and try it.  You never know how this could change your classroom environment and teaching.

~ Tisha

Dr. Tisha Shipley is an associate  professor and the Chair of the BA ECE Admin program at an online university. She received a doctorate of education in Curriculum and Instruction from Northcentral University and a master's degree in Elementary Education/Administration and a bachelor's degree in Early Childhood Education from Northwestern Oklahoma State University. She has taught multiple grade levels at Moore Public Schools, including pre–K children and gifted 3rd–6th graders, and served as a cheer sponsor and a principal. Shipley presents at early childhood conferences and helps teachers in their classroom. She has also started a teacher website to help teachers, parents, aspiring teacher candidates, and administrators at Busy Classroom.

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