Image by Catherine of Dilly Dabbles Doodles
At the beginning of the school year, another relationship that is important to foster is the one you have with parents and caregivers of your students. (See my previous post about relationships with people in your school.)
Communication is key to building that relationship. When parents feel like they are informed and know what is going on, they will bend over backward to help and support you in return. Here are some of the ways I communicate and build relationships with parents:
Set up an email group of parents. During open house or on the first day of school, I give students their homework folder. It contains a getting to know you form, any forms the school needs, my “All About…” poster for students to complete and some homework for the parents. The parents’ homework is to send me an email from the email address to which they’d like to receive email’s from me. In the subject line they put their child’s name and in the content, I ask them to list their names as they would like me to call them. This makes it quick and easy for me to add them to my address book and parent group for the year. (I create a group each year called parents 2012-2013, or whatever the years are.) I can easily connect it to the child’s name and now know how they’d prefer to be addressed. Most parents are fine with their first names, but you can never be sure. Then I don’t offend someone by calling them their first name when they like to be more formal or if the go by another name.
I use this email list all the time. I send out reminders of special events and field trips. I can quickly find one or two parents that I need to communicate with specifically as well. I am sure to tell parents that I will always send the emails with the list in the blind copy. I do this by sending it to myself and then sending it to the group in the BCC section. That way the emails are hidden and others can’t use them.
You may have a school or district system that allows you to email parents. I have that option as well. However, I have found that it is often not up to date with the most recent information and it is easier for me to quickly find individuals through my list. Of course, you’ll need to find a system that works best for you and is in accordance to school and district policies.
A second thing I do to keep communication open is to send home a weekly newsletter. I just typed up a simple half page note that included the main topics of study for the week and the spelling and word wall words. It wasn’t fancy, but parents appreciated and looked for the weekly update. I always printed it on Green paper so parents could find it easier.
…Side note…I have tried a classroom website. I found that parents didn’t notice when I stopped posting in December, so I didn’t hassle with it for the rest of the school year. You may have better luck with online communication like a website or blog. It may be something you’ll want to try.
I have two freebies for this post. The first is the letter I send home to parents for their email homework. It has no clip art or images, so I’m giving it as a word doc, so you can easily edit it and give it your own spin. Add your own clip art or copy it on the free framed pages I gave away on this post. The second is a simple newsletter template. If you’d like a themed and editable template, you can find them in my blog store. The free version is in PDF format and includes the blank template and a second page that gives an idea of how you might use it.
How do you communicate with parents? Leave a comment or link up below to share.