Many teachers opt to use communication books that students take to and from school every day. They can take many different formats, from a commercial planner to a simple notebook. Teachers and parents can use the book for communicating important messages to each other and for asking questions. Consider adding a clip to the current day’s page to make checking planners quick and easy. You may also wish to explore planners that have a plastic pouch at the front, which parents can use to return forms or money.
If you’re looking for a tech-savvy way to communicate with parents, you may wish to explore apps such as Seesaw. In addition to writing messages, you can also send parents pictures and videos taken during their child’s day. For general updates for your parent group, a Twitter account will let you post quick messages as well as photos and videos. Just be sure to adhere to privacy guidelines when posting pics or videos of students.
You may wish to keep parents informed about the activities and events in your classroom through the use of weekly newsletters. Whether you opt for a digital format or hard copy, including a calendar will help keep parents apprised of upcoming events, from field trips to special theme days. Think about the content you wish to include in your newsletter, such as curriculum updates, suggestions for home activities, or highlights of recent activities.
To help establish your open door policy, plan an event or two where parents can stop by to visit the classroom. This could be an informal open house where students lead their parents around the classroom, showing off their work and telling them about areas of the room where they learn and play. Consider having a few activities set up that students can participate in with their parents. For a more structured event, consider having parents in, for example, to watch a performance your students have been working on or for a science or arts fair showcasing student work.
You may have specific times throughout the year when families are invited to attend parent-teacher conferences. Give consideration to how you will structure these meetings. Would you like the child to be in attendance? Do you have any questions for the parents? Will you have student work samples to share with parents? Will you outline the student’s strengths as well as next steps? Parent-teacher conferences provide an ideal opportunity to update parents on their child’s progress.
Phone and Email
It’s important to let parents know that when they have a question or concern, you are happy to speak with them. Inform parents about the best way to get in touch with you, whether that is by phone, email, or in person. Phone calls and face-to-face meetings are also a great way for you to reach out to parents when you need to discuss something that will take more than a quick note or something that is of a more serious nature.
Begin the school year by letting parents know how much you value their partnership in their child’s education. Developing a strong home-school connection allows you to work together to support each child’s success.
Written by: Erin Agnello
Edited & Designed by: Jamie Schmalenberger
My name is John Haber. I’m a Pediatric Occupational Therapist and the founder of Nogginsland. I became a COTA in 2003, and then went back to school much later, receiving my Master’s Degree in OT from Mercy College in New York in 2016.
Over the years, I’ve worked with a variety of populations in different settings, from school districts, to developmental disability centers, to children’s hospitals.