I am a mom of four. All of my children will be in school this year…how is that possible!? I will have one in junior high, two in grade school, and one in preschool. One of my favorite parts of having my own children in school is to hear how they are doing in their own classrooms, how they are with their peers, and who they are as a learner from their teachers.
Parent communication is very important to me (Meg) not only as a parent but as a teacher. When you stay connected with parents/guardians you build a relationship between home and school. This allows you, as their teacher, to learn about their home life to help better meet their needs in the classroom. It also opens the doors for you as the teacher to work together with the parents/guardians to give the best learning experience for their student.
There are many different ways you can communicate with parents/guardians in your classroom. Whatever you choose, it should be what you feel most comfortable with. My rule of thumb for communication is to make sure I am sending home positive notes or messages about each student frequently, especially your challenging students. Trust me, the parents/guardians know their student is difficult and when you make a phone call home or send a message they are expecting it to be bad. Turn that narrative around and surprise them and share a positive. The impact on the relationship between parents, teachers, and students is powerful.
Ideas for Family Communication
Monthly Newsletter: Create a template that you can easily change out each month to give families updates on what is happening in your classroom. You could include what you are learning about, upcoming activities, school happenings, important dates, etc… Keep it simple and add some pictures.
Unit Family Letter: If you have started to create IntegratED Units with us or have tried them on your own, create a newsletter letting parents know what is coming up in their learning. This puts families in the know for a great start to a discussion at the dinner table. Bonus: If parents/guardians have an idea about the topic it gives them a pathway to tell their student what they know.
Instant Messaging (Class DoJo, Remind, etc.): I am constantly seeing notes home on the floor after the bell has rang and students have left. You know the one saying we are going on a field trip and to make sure to pack a lunch. Using an app that supports instant messaging allows us and families to make a quick reminder or message home, taking away the stress of wondering if your student got that very important paper home safe. You can also send out pictures and reminders on a “Class Story” so families can see what is happening in the classroom.
Volunteers: At the beginning of each quarter send out a volunteer letter. This might be something that is going on in your building or in your classroom. I have met so many family members that would love to dedicate some of their time during the week helping me or my students. Some ideas to put on your list are: listening to students read, playing a game, cutting out lamination, helping with PTO activities, etc…
Megan and Kara are educational leaders, professional development experts, and current classroom teachers who are improving the way instruction is being delivered in the standard classroom.