Tips for Strong Parent-Teacher Cooperation and Communication

As many schools across the country prepare for the start of the back-to-school season, it’s easy to get caught up in the chaos of school supply and classroom shopping, end-of-summer assignments, creating lesson plans, and meet-the-teacher nights. However, one of the most impactful steps you can take (as a parent or as a teacher) is to take some time to focus on establishing a good parent-teacher relationship at the outset of the school year. This will help lay the foundation for healthy parent-teacher cooperation and communication throughout the year.

Why Parent-Teacher Cooperation is Important

Strong parent-teacher cooperation in and outside of the classroom has a number of short- and long-term benefits for students. Research has indicated that there are positive academic outcomes stemming from parent involvement.[1] In fact, parent involvement remains a strong predictor of academic achievement at all levels, from kindergarten through high school, as these children have fewer grade retentions and are more likely to graduate.[2]

For Schools: How to Promote Parent-Teacher Cooperation

Some of the most effective ways that schools can foster healthy communication and collaboration between parents and teachers is delineated in a research-based framework developed by Joyce Epstein of Johns Hopkins University:[3]

  • Parenting: Assist families with parenting skills, family support, understanding child and adolescent development, and setting home conditions to support learning at each age and grade level.
  • Communicating: Communicate with families about school programs and student progress. Create two-way communication channels between school and home that are effective and reliable.
  • Volunteering: Improve recruitment and training to involve families as volunteers and as audiences at the school or in other locations. Enable educators to work with volunteers who support students and the school. Provide meaningful work and flexible scheduling.
  • Learning at Home: Involve families with their children in academic learning at home, including homework, goal setting, and other curriculum-related activities.
  • Decision Making: Include families as participants in school decisions, governance, and advocacy activities through school councils or improvement teams, committees, and other organizations.

By establishing policies and procedures that address the above initiatives, schools can begin establishing a school-wide community and culture that promotes positive parent-teacher cooperation and communication.

For Teachers: How to Develop Strong Parent-Teacher Partnerships with Your Students’ Parents

As a teacher, you likely understand the impact that a students’ home life can have on the school day. By establishing relationships built on strong parent-teacher cooperation and communication, you can partner with parents to help students succeed inside and outside of the classroom.

  • Avoid “dumping”: This is a scenario in which a frustrated or upset teacher gets in touch with parents and “dumps” the problem onto them. Instead, try the “three call method” to establish a positive, working relationship with parents. Early in the year, teachers should try to call each student’s parents to set the framework for a partnership. The second phone call should focus on something positive that the child has done, such as a good grade on a math test, excellent behavior during a class period, or something similar. Then, on the third call, if necessary, the teacher can present the parents with a problem. “In this way, parents and teachers have already established a trusting, workable relationship that significantly diminishes blaming.”


  • Prioritize Parent/Teacher Conferences: “Parent-teacher conferences give you the opportunity to boost communication about their child’s progress. Similarly, it affords you the opportunity to extend the communication lines beyond the four walls (i.e. between home and school, as well as develop strategies and plans for the students’ future together.”


  • Make Yourself Available: At the outset of the school year, inform parents that you are available to discuss any questions or concerns that they may have. Whether that means being accessible via phone, text, or email between certain hours or having weekly office hours in which parents can schedule in-person appointments is up to you. The most important part is establishing your availability and your willingness to work with parents to help their child succeed.


For Parents: How to Foster Positive Relationships with Your Child’s Teachers

Developing positive parent-teacher cooperation is a two-way street, and there are a number of proactive steps that parents can take to help cultivate this relationship.

  • Approach the relationship with respect: “Treat the teacher-parent-child relationship the way you would [treat] any really important one in your life. Create a problem-solving partnership instead of confronting a teacher immediately with what’s wrong.”


  • Let your child develop their own relationship with the teacher.


It’s important for parents to give their child space and time to develop a relationship with their teacher that is independent of their own. Try to reserve your own opinions and judgments, especially if they are not positive, so that your child is not influenced by them.

  • Communicate in the most effective way possible for both you and the teacher. This may mean sending a quick e-mail or a handwritten note in your child’s school folder. Or it may mean scheduling before- or after-school, in-person meetings for a quick chat. By maintaining open lines of communication in a respectful and efficient way, you can help develop a healthy and productive parent-teacher relationship.


Improving Parent-Teacher Cooperation and Communication in Your School

One of the best ways to evaluate the current state of parent-teacher cooperation in your school is through anonymous surveys. These assessments, available for both teachers and parents, offer a big-picture perspective on a number of key data points, such as teacher perceptions of parental involvement with student behaviors and parent perceptions of school and family engagement.
Regardless of how you approach the parent-teacher relationship at the outset of a new school year, one fact remains clear: “the key to successful parent-teacher collaboration is to become a team. This collaboration is the most powerful tool in helping a child be successful at school…As parents and teachers learn the value of this collaboration, they can create an environment that supports the ability for all students to succeed.”[10]

[1]Patrikakou, Evanthia N. “The Power of Parent Involvement: Evidence, Ideas, and Tools for Student Success.” Center on Innovation & Improvement. Retrieved from on August 11, 2016.


[3]Epstein, J. L. and K. Salinas. 1992. School and Family Partnerships Encyclopedia of Education Research, 6th edition, New York: Macmillan.

[4]“Curwin, Richard. “Parents and Teachers: The Possibility of a Dream Team.” Retrieved from on August 12, 2016.

[5]“Cox, Janelle. “Parent-Teacher Collaboration Strategies That Work.” Retrieved from on August 15, 2016.


[7]“The Parent-Teacher Partnership.” Retrieved from on August 12, 2016.


[9]“Talking with Teachers.” Retrieved from on August 12, 2016.

[10]“Cox, Janelle. “Parent-Teacher Collaboration Strategies That Work.” Retrieved from on August 15, 2016.

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