Fostering Communication with Parents

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As catechists, we want to partner with parents as closely as possible on their child’s faith formation journey, but we are often frustrated with the lack of interaction we have with the parents of those we teach. Recently, I received the following question from a catechist named Susanne:

“Any tried and true ways to get information to and from parents of third graders? I find paper notes left behind in class, folders never coming back from parents, textbooks “forgotten” at home….I need some solid advice for next year’s class. Thank you!”

Let’s help Susanne (and one another) out! Permit me to offer some suggestions, and then I’d like to hear from you!

  1. Consider creating a cover page that gets stapled to anything that goes home to the parents, requiring them to sign and return to verify that they have indeed received and reviewed the communication. I did this several times with fourth graders and sixth graders and, by checking on a weekly basis as the first thing we did, eventually had about 80% cooperation from parents.
  2. Instead of sending textbooks home, tear out specific pages to send home with the above-mentioned cover page for parents to sign and return.
  3. Talk to your catechetical leader about establishing a new policy that requires parents to enter the building and go to their child’s classroom at dismissal time. This gives you, the catechist, some time to connect personally with parents.
  4. Arrange an e-mail system or policy through your catechetical leader that permits you to send occasional messages to parents summarizing what their children have learned and including important communications for the parents. Ask for replies and for them to confirm receipt of your e-mails.
  5. Arrange to do the above, but use text messages instead of e-mails. Again, check with your catechetical leader to make sure you are following parish/diocesan policy.

What other suggestions do you have for improving communication with parents of those you teach?


Finding God: Our Response to God’s Gifts e-newsletters are a great way to inspire parents in their role as leaders of the domestic church and in their own deepening spirituality.

About Joe Paprocki 2156 Articles
Joe Paprocki, DMin, is National Consultant for Faith Formation at Loyola Press, where, in addition to his traveling/speaking responsibilities, he works on the development team for faith formation curriculum resources including Finding God: Our Response to God’s Gifts and God’s Gift: Reconciliation and Eucharist. Joe has more than 35 years of experience in ministry and has presented keynotes, presentations, and workshops in more than 100 dioceses in North America. Joe is a frequent presenter at national conferences including the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress, the Mid-Atlantic Congress, and the National Conference for Catechetical Leadership. He is the author of numerous books, including the best seller The Catechist’s Toolbox, A Church on the Move, Under the Influence of Jesus, and Called to Be Catholic—a bilingual, foundational supplemental program that helps young people know their faith and grow in their relationship with God. Joe is also the series editor for the Effective Catechetical Leader and blogs about his experiences in faith formation at www.catechistsjourney.com.

9 Comments on Fostering Communication with Parents

  1. About #5 – definitely ask your catechetical leader. Guidelines for child safety generally forbid parents without background checks from being unsupervised in areas where there are children, so they should not be wandering the halls going to a classroom unless there is a hallway monitor in every area.

    • I don’t think I would consider them to be unsupervised because every classroom has a trained Catechist that has attended VIRTUS. Also, all the parents would be coming in at the same time. It would be no different than a family event you would do.
      But I think there is a better way to do this, have your Catechist walk the children to a pickup area, we use our social hall. This would be less hectic and allow more control but would also give you an opportunity to interact with the parents of your children.

    • Our parents remain in the lobby of the school building until after our group closing prayer is done. Then they can go to the classrooms. No wandering around ahead of time, though admittedly some parents do not respect the rule and do try to go to rooms ahead of time.

  2. I teach 8th grade and for years have used email to communicate with the parents of my students about every other week to let them know what we are doing, to express any concerns, to warn them about class discussions that could affect their family (homosexuality, divorce, etc.), and to give them ‘homework’ ideas on how they can expand and reinforce our class discussions in the family setting. I know that not all parents read the emails, but I get very positive, appreciative feedback from the ones that do, and that improves the overall effectiveness of my classes and their impact on the child AND the family.

  3. I have put together bulletin boards with upcoming activities and news by each entrance to the building. I have also made monthly newsletters that are sent home and emailed to parents. These both seem helpful!

  4. I will discuss the e-mail or texting procedure with my Faith Formation leader, Barbara. Thank you for the update. Bernadette

  5. In our parish, the parents have to pick up the children at the class room and I get to speak to the parents if I see that a child is not cooperating. Most of the time I get good response from the parent. All the points you mentioned are covered in our Parish.

  6. Smile!“Every time you smile at someone, it is an act of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing.” – Teresa of Calcutta. Be a positive, approachable person and parents will come to you like a magnet. We, too, require parents to pick up and drop off from the classrooms in an effort both to keep kids safe and to provide an opportunity for connection, fellowship, communication and friendship. Those that grow in relationship with other parishioners/catechists are in turn those that remain involved, vested, present. Everybody wins!

  7. I do a (mostly) weekly newsletter in Word that I email to parents of my students. I have a set format including a paragraph on the key idea of our lesson, homework assignment, highlights of key info from the program (upcoming dates, etc) or Church season, our class Saints of the Month and a link to an online article on faith formation specific to families. Not sure how much it gets read, but I feel like at least I am reaching out and also keeping parents informed as to what we are doing.

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