Communication with Families

Communication between school and home
Parent communication is essential.  In fact, it should be amongst your top priorities to keep parents in the loop with what their child is doing/learning about in school.  This will keep your home to school relationships positive and open.

At the beginning of the school year we have an open house and the families come in to meet the teachers.  Since this is our first face-to-face interaction, I try to make them feel as comfortable as possible.  It starts with a HANDSHAKE and a SMILE.  I try to make them feel like they are the only people in the room at that moment.  EYE CONTACT, SMILING, AND ACTIVE LISTENING are three things I focus on during these conversations.  I try to make it clear that parents are welcome to contact me about anything and that our classroom door is always open to them.  Of course, I do mention that if they need to see/talk to me during the school day, my priority is their child’s learning but I will do my best to make myself as available as possible for them when they call/email.

That being said, I try to reach all of my families on a regular basis.  To do this, I use a variety of communication tools.  Why?  The reason for this is because some of my parents respond best when a newsletter shows up on their email, some prefer to just check their child’s BEE binder in the evening when they sign it, and others prefer to read a newsletter.  I wish that I could say that all of my families would read a newsletter that was sent home but in reality, I know that some students’ newsletters find their way to the floor of the bus and never make it home.  If this was the only method of communication that I relied on, there would be a lot of frustrated parents that don’t know what is going on.  Yes, sad truth.

So, here are the variety of ways that I communicate with parents.  I hope you can pick up a tip to use for your own classroom!

First up, parent newsletters.  Yes, these are my least favorite things to put together but they are important.  I have tried to streamline this process by making myself a template so that I can quickly get to the point and enter in my information.  Here is an example of what one of my newsletters look like (see below).  I try to send home newsletters on a monthly basis.

  
Next up, is our video newsletter!  It has been a life changer!  I started having my students do a video newsletter this year and the positive response has been overwhelming.
 Here’s how it works.  Before filming, my students give me a list of topics that they feel we need to include in our video newsletter.  This can be learning targets we have covered, projects we have done, assemblies/field trips, important dates, homework reminders, birthday announcements, etc.  Once I have my list, I set aside a 45-min time (once a month) to do the filming.  The kids come out, I tell them a line or two that I need them to say.  They practice it a few times and then we film.  They know that if they make a mistake, it can be redone as many times as necessary.  At the beginning of the year, the video is very serious because they are NERVOUS!  They get more comfortable every month that goes by and this past newsletter was my favorite because their personalities really shine through.  I film it on my iPad and then export it into iMovie.  From iMove it is put into YouTube and then I email it out to parents.  Here is our April video newsletter!

Disclaimer:  All students in our video newsletters have turned in a signed permission slip to participate in the video newsletter and it is understood by the parents that this video is shared to others.

Another method of communication is through our BEE binders.  BEE stands for Bring Everything Everyday.  Basically, each child brings a 3-ring binder at the beginning of the school year.  Inside of this binder there is a zipper pouch (for book order money or lunch money), folder, planner, and a few page protectors for a class list, schedule, and spelling ideas.

This BEE binder goes home and back to school every day.  Every Monday my students write their week’s important events into their planner along with their spelling words.  The parents check this every night and initial it.  Their child’s nightly reading homework minutes are also recorded into the BEE binder.

If the parents have an important note or question for me, they write it in the BEE binder.  My para checks their BEE binders every morning and gives them a puppy stamp once it is checked.

BEE binders have DECREASED THE AMOUNT OF lost assignments, parents not knowing what’s going on, and unorganized students.  I love them.

In my classroom, we use Class Dojo as our main method of classroom management.  If you are not familiar with Class Dojo you can check it out HERE.  It is web-based and FREE.  Here is a link to the parent letter that I send home explaining this to my families.  Basically, students are given a dojo point for positive behavior and can lose points for poor choices.  Our points collect all month and the top dojo point winner will receive a certificate and prize.

 The points are reset at the end of every month.  I like Class Dojo for many reasons but one feature that I have found to be helpful is the parent communication component.  My families are able to log on and check out how their child has been behaving in school by checking their dojo points.  They are also able to send me a private message through Class Dojo if they have any questions or concerns.  It works well for my class.

Lastly, I use this blog as a means of storing all of the archives of our newsletters (both written and video).  If you click on the families tab at the top of this blog, it will take you to my family communication page.  If anything, I can never have a parent tell me that they didn’t know that something was happening in our classroom because there were plenty of opportunities for them to be aware.

I mentioned earlier that I use a variety of means to connect with my families.  I know that some of you are probably thinking, why do you put yourself through so much work?  Yes, I understand that this takes more time and effort to cover all of my bases and provide several means of communication but to me, it’s worth it.  Families deserve to know what is going on at school and let’s face it, families are busier than ever so if I can make their life easier and try extra hard to reach them, they tend to  invest more in their child’s education and provide that extra support.

Paper newsletter, video newsletter, BEE binders, and more! Great ideas for teachers for communicating with families.

11 Comments

  1. Mrs 3rd Grade

    I love your idea of a video newsletter! Thank you Kayla! 🙂 I love this idea for next year, and will have to figure out how I can use it too! It would be a great recap of the month too! Thanks for amazing ideas!

    Mrs. 3rd Grade 

    Reply
    • Angie Olson

      Thanks for reading and for your feedback! I can't wait to watch your video newsletters next year! 🙂

      Reply
  2. Kathie @Tried and True Teaching Tools

    Oh my gosh, I LOVE the video newsletter!!! I love that you have the kids brainstorm and come up with topics! That's on my list for next year!! I do hard copy newsletters, as well on my website. Thank you, Angie, for organizing this linky party!!

    Reply
    • Angie Olson

      Thanks for linking up and reading Kathie! I look forward to watching your video newsletters next year! So much fun!!!

      Reply
    • Angie Olson

      Oh sweet, sweet, sweet friend of mine! Your words always find a way of making my face smile! Thanks you for your kind words. I really wish we lived closer too! We would make an amazing team! #isitjulyyet #weneedanotherrambledate

      Reply
  3. Rene Machjewski

    I am loving those planners! Did I miss where you wrote about those before? Can you tell more about them? They look purchased or did you make those? thanks

    Reply
    • Angie Olson

      Thanks Rene! The planners are from School Specialty and we order them for our entire grade level. The one we use is called the Classic Planner. Hope that helps! 🙂

      Reply
  4. Julie Herrmann

    I really like the look of these planners. Our school orders a different kind that I'm not as fond of so I opted out. I'll have to check out the Classic Planner by School Speciality. Thanks for the tips! Teacher Ms H ~ Third Is the Word

    Reply
  5. Diana Simental

    Love the idea of the video newsletter! What a great way to use tech in the classroom. I need an iPad now. ?

    Reply

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Welcome, I’m Angie!

Hello there! I’m Angie Olson- a teacher, curriculum developer, educational blogger and owner of Lucky Little Learners.

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