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students parental data

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I am very new to FileMaker. I am creating a database for a middle school, and am struggling with how and where to store students' parental data. Students data is simply FirstName, LastName, MI. Parental data includes FirstName, LastName, StreetAddress, City, State, Zip, DayPhone, EvePhone, CellPhone, email, etc.

Of course a student may have more than one parent. Parent may or may not share the same last name, address, phone, cell phone, etc. Also one or more parents can have one or more children (students). One child in a household may have a different combination of parental contacts than her sibling.

The data will be used to 1) look up a student's parental contact info, 2) create form letters and mailing labels to parents.

For looking up contact info it seems I could just make Parent1 and Parent2 data a part of the student record.

But for creating form letters/mailing labels I'm wondering if there should be

1) a table of parental info where each record holds two parents' info

2) a table of parental info where each record holds one parent's info

For either of these last two options it seems I would have to build a third table that would tie together students and parents. It also seems then I would have to have some sort of script to create form letters and mailing labels. Is this correct? Are there scripts out there for this kind of thing?

Would I be making my database too unwieldy by breaking up the students and parents?

I'd appreciate any help you might have for database structure and scripting.


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I have created a similar type database for my church. I used a file for Family (Household) and another for Individuals. The Family file contains the Family ID, Family Name (last), Address, etc. A portal shows all the member (Indivduals) of this Family.

The Individual file contains the information about the person First Name , Last Name if Different, Family Status ( Father, Monther , Child) a portal shows the other members of the family.

I have another file Extended Relations which is join file in a self relationship in the Individual file. This is used to show relatives that are not part of the Family, i.e., separted parents, grandparents, etc. Another Portal in Individuals show these relatives.

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Hi Chris,

There are many ways to represent families in databases, finding the best way for your system depends on your business logic. Ask yourself: What is important to know about our families?

The key things to know that will determine structure:

Is it important to keep track of both biological parents, or just the guardians the student lives with?

If parents live in separate households, is it necessary to keep track of both addresses? (do mailings go to both?) You don't need to consider emergency contacts for this question as they can be tracked separately.

Is it important to see siblings (other than for data entry convenience?)

Answering a similar question, there are some ER diagrams showing possible structures in

this thread. What I would recommend is a structure like 2 or 3 from my ER diagrams.

For sending letters home, it depends on the structure, but you will either use the address from the Family table (if that's where address originates), the address of the parent that the student lives with, or both parents' addresses. To send to both parents' addresses would require some special scripting.

Which ever way you want to go about this, make sure you talk to people who work with the data to make sure your design makes sense to them.

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