3 Ways to Build Relationships with Parents at the Beginning of the Year


As teachers, our students should be our number one priority. We share that priority with others, though, because those students have parents who also care deeply for them. Every new school year, I am always very persistent to establish a positive relationship with parents. This means I am trying to contact them BEFORE school even starts.

Home Visits

Since I am autism classroom teacher, I only have 8 students. Due to this low number, I am able to dedicate a lot of time to each family to ensure that I can gain a better understanding of the child before they step foot into my classroom. I know in some areas home visits are a thing of the past, but I can’t tell you how much I’ve learned about my students from going to their homes. It’s amazing to see how they interact in an environment where they feel MOST comfortable. You are able to see pictures of their families, where they eat dinner, their bedrooms and most valuable possessions. Home visits are also a great way to get to know parents and start building those relationships that will be so important to have throughout your teaching journey with their child. 

Parent Inventory Surveys

I love to give parents a survey to fill out before school starts to get an idea of how independent their child is at home. Skills that we might not think about working on at school might need to be IEP goals if the child cannot do them at home (i.e. dressing self, brushing teeth, tying shoes, etc.). Life skills are something we work on daily in our classroom and it’s amazing how much you can learn about a child through a survey. This way, you can start working towards mastering those skills from day one.



I currently use the “Basic Skills Parent Checklist from the book below by Marlene Breitenbach, M.S.Ed, BCBA. There are also a TON of other checklists included that I love to use for informal assessment data throughout the year.


Meet the Teacher Night

At my current school, we do a Meet the Teacher night the week before school starts. Instead of having a free for all where all my families come at once, I try my best to schedule families in increments so that I can walk each of them around and explain the different centers and activities, as well as spend some one on one time with the child while they explore the room. During this time, I also have parents sign up to be Volunteers and start scheduling them for any upcoming “fun days” at school or field trips. I also have them fill out all those pesky required school forms so I can turn them in and be done with them (I hate tedious paperwork).


Click here to see the form I set up on Google Drive for my parents to fill out during Meet the Teacher Night


Once I get all the information from them on volunteering for class events and field trips, I fill out the following sections in my SPED Planner so I always have the info on me for planning purposes!


Parent Communication Logs

DISCLOSURE: Now I completely understand that sometimes meeting a parent can be out of your control. Some parents have very busy schedules and cannot meet face to face and are not the best at returning phone calls. Try your best to contact them over the phone, through e-mail, or even via text if that is what it takes. Use a recording system, such as the one pictured below (from my SPED Everything Binder) to ensure that you keep track of each and every time you try to contact a parent, the reason, and the result (left message, no answer, etc.). This data might be useful if you have an issue later in the year.



How do you build relationships with your classroom parents?



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  1. Deborah on August 27, 2015 at 5:20 pm

    Hi Gabrielle! I liked this post a lot and thought it would be a valuable resource for our readers at Special Needs Essentials Blog. Would you please let me repost it? Feel free to repost anything from our blog too with appropriate credit and backlink. Thanks! Deborah.

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