This week we NEED to talk about parent contact. While student connections are oh-so important, do you ever stop and think about making connections with the parents too?
Parents need the connections too
I learned pretty quickly that it is essential that you communicate with parents. For me, just chatting at the pick up line seemed okay my first couple years, but after getting fed up with being bombarded with emails and phone calls made me reevaluate what I was doing. Sure, I was sending home quick notes that our school would mass produce that let parents know important events coming up but they weren’t effective. Bottom line is that parents weren’t reading the things I sent home or they didn’t completely understand them.
This was something that I am sure frustrates all of us. You take the time to put things in notebooks only for them to go unread.
Let’s change that.
Simplify things when it comes to parent contact
After talking about these frustrations to one of my coworkers, she told me that she types up a quick newsletter each week. Of course I had heard of sending a newsletter home but I honestly thought that it was just more work for me to do so I never considered it. After hearing about how she implemented it, I figured I needed to give it a try. Parents needed the contact and I needed to give it to them.
Having everything in one place could be pretty helpful for parents. While I was getting frustrated that they didn’t read everything I sent home, I never stopped to think about why.
-Parents could just be getting home from work in time to do homework with their child and be done for the day – completely forgetting to check other things.
-There might be multiple children at home. Hectic afternoons are inevitable.
-Notes from the school might not always make the most sense and parents don’t completely understand how that bit of information affects your classroom.
-Kids lose notes.
Bottom line is that we don’t know what is going on at home. Let’s take the few extra minutes it takes to type up some extra (and important!) information to communicate with the parents. Not only does this make it easier for them, it makes it easier for you in the long run. (Less emails and time trying to explain every. little. thing? YES PLEASE)
Decide whether you want to do a weekly/monthly newsletter
Both have advantages and disadvantages. Here is what I thought about it:
- You only have to work on them, well, once a month!!!
- Quick, easy, and to the point.
- Easy for parents to hang up and reference.
- Parents (and you) can see exactly what is happening or going on that day.
- You have to know exactly what goes on for the whole month pretty far in advance
- Last minute things that are scheduled after the calendar is sent out will need a separate note.
- More up-to-date information
- Easy to use for homework and what you are working on that week
- Can be a little more detailed
- You have to fill them out each week
- Make sure your parents see the new newsletter each week (more on this later)
Figure out what will go in your newsletters
Every newsletter that I sent home had stuff that I thought was pretty important.
- Important dates: This was so easy to let the parents know that there was picture day, or fundraiser money due.
- Homework: I sent home homework weekly and this is where I let the parents know what was expected!
- What is going on in the week: I let the parents know what we are learning that week. That way they could take the time to work on those items a little more at home if they wanted.
- Birthdays! I love to give a shout out to the kiddos who have birthdays that week – it always made them feel so special!
- A note from the teacher: Sometimes, okay a lot of times, I was just so darn proud of my students. Here I would let the parents know how awesome their kiddos are and why. I didn’t name students here but I would give reasons why I was so proud. This usually kept that behavior going because it would trigger a conversation between parent and child about how much Mrs. Wright loved something! Here is where I would also let the parents know that I would have a substitute teacher in my class that week.
** Every week did not contain ALL of this information. I used what I thought was most important for that week!
Let the parents know your expectations with your newsletters
Your parents need to know that this newsletter is important. I would tell my parents that I am taking time to write this out to not only keep them updated, but to make things easier on them so they are not having to go through backpacks to figure things out.
Ask for respect! Let them know that since you take the time to do this for them, you would like it if they at least reviewed the newsletter when it is sent home.
When they know they need this newsletter and it is the one-stop-shop to any important info, it is pretty easy to know if it is missing. Parents know to look for this one item and if it is not there, it may have gotten lost. This way it is easier on them to just ask for a replacement. No more second guessing or asking children “did your teacher give you anything today?”
Obviously you can send your newsletter home any way you would like. The way I liked to do it was sending them home in my student folders. It was always the first page in these folders and I could count on my parents seeing them daily since they had to practice what was in their folder and check behavior charts!!!
However you choose to send them home, if your parents are prepared and know the expectations, you can count on them being read.
Also, make sure to schedule out 5-10 minutes (or however long it takes you) to fill them out each week. I waited until Sunday and would fill them out while lounging on the couch! Come Monday morning I would make my copies and be done! Easy peasy!!
Make your life easier with these easy-to-customize newsletters:
With these, you will get the templates for
- Monthly Calendars
- Monthly newsletters
- Weekly Newsletters
All newsletters are themed and have colored or black and white options to choose from. With the black and white versions, I just made sure to print them on some cute Astrobrights paper, which we know makes every teacher a little happier!
You can grab your set HERE!!!!
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