4 Tips for Better Communication at Home
Written by Hollie Conger
Making education a family goal is one of the most important topics of our Juntos workshops. Christina Diaz, a facilitator at Redmond’s Juntos program, shares a few strategies about communication in the home that families of Obsidian Middle School have found helpful.
1. Invite Open Conversation
In order for students to succeed academically in school, it is critical to have regular open conversations about student experiences at school. According to the National Education Association, students with involved parents are more likely to:
- Earn higher grades and test scores, and enroll in higher-level programs
- Be promoted, pass their classes, and earn credits
- Attend school regularly
- Have better social skills, show improved behavior, and adapt well to school
- Graduate and go on to postsecondary education[i]
2. Overcome Roadblocks
Families found that asking specific questions about school are necessary in achieving effective dialogue. Parents found that asking their children broad questions leads to a communication dead-end. More often than not, questions like, “How was school?” leads to the response, “fine”. While asking questions such as, “Please tell me one exciting thing about what made today fine” leads to richer and more meaningful conversations.
3. Break the Ice
Having difficult conversations is necessary in family growth, but families must learn how to break the ice to begin those discussions. Juntos families shared that writing down “likes” and “dislikes” on notecards helped move conversations in a positive direction. This activity reinforces the concept that their opinions matter and opens up a two-way dialogue.
4. Set Goals
Setting realistic, personalized goals was key for many families. Establishing these goals greatly depends on the family structure so this has to be something each family determines individually. And don’t compare! Each family has to determine the goals that are best for them. Specifics are key – writing specific goals will help families reach them together. Parents asked their kids questions like, “What are fun things we can do as a family?” and “What is your favorite TV show to watch?”
[i] "Research Spotlight on Parental Involvement in Education." NEA. National Education Association, n.d. Web. 29 June 2016.