The beginning of the school year is such an exciting time! It can also be exhausting and challenging to go from a relatively quiet summer break to communicating with over twenty families. Add to that all of the back-to-school preparations and it can quickly become overwhelming! In this post, I wanted to share some back-to-school tips for communicating with parents. My hope is that these tips will help you establish strong and positive communication that will serve your students all year long.
The Importance of Communicating with Parents
It’s so important to set the tone for open communication early in the school year. This is especially true in kindergarten, since this is the first time that many families have needed to communicate with school staff before.
There are many benefits of strong parent-teacher communication, including:
- Encourage Participation: Communicating with parents about what their child is learning in school can encourage them to take an active role.
- Stay Informed: When parents are used to communicating with school staff, they will be more likely to keep staff informed when there are changes in the child’s life that might impact them at school.
- Build Positive Relationships: When teachers regularly communicate with families, there will naturally be more of a range of positive and constructive news. This goes a long way in building a positive relationship since teachers aren’t only communicating with parents about negative behaviors.
5 Tips for Communicating with Parents
If you would like to establish strong parent-teacher communication in your classroom from the beginning of the school year, this is the post for you! I’m sharing five tips for communicating effectively with parents in the beginning of the school year.
1. Host a Meet the Teacher Night
Your school likely already has a meet the teacher night or open house event, so this probably isn’t something extra you need to plan. The reason I wanted to mention it in this post is because a successful meet the teacher night can really set the tone for parent communication during the school year.
At a meet the teacher event, you are able to take the time to answer questions, put faces to names, and get ready for a great year! An effective meet the teacher night can also make the first day school go much more smoothly, since most parents will have had their most pressing questions answered beforehand.
2. Gather Contact Information Directly from Parents
Another way to streamline your communication with parents is to have all of their contact information at your fingertips. As helpful as it is to have parent information in a digital format, we know that it’s not always convenient to log in to the computer to make a quick phone call.
This is why it’s helpful to gather student information from parents during meet the teacher night or on the first day of school. Often, there is more contact information or context that parents will give to you that they don’t provide to the district. This also gives you a chance to verify their preferred method of communication. Once you have collected all of the student contact forms, you can compile them in an easy-to-access binder or folder.
3. Have a Flexible Morning on the First Day
Be sure to leave some space in your arrival procedures for communicating with parents as needed, especially during the first drop-off. The first day of kindergarten is a major milestone that is often accompanied by big feelings! When you have the space in your schedule to greet families, answer questions, and acknowledge emotions, parents will be able to tell that you want to take the time to communicate with them. Setting this tone on the first day of school will go a long way!
4. Use a Communication Folder
If you plan to use a back-and-forth communication folder throughout the school year, it’s a good idea to start using it as soon as possible. This will get families in the habit of checking it daily or weekly, depending on the interval you choose. My favorite communication folder uses two pockets with a little visual to show parents what needs to be “LEFT at home” and what needs to come “RIGHT back to school”.
When you have a consistent method for daily or weekly communication, parents will be more likely to actually use it! They will be in the habit of looking for it in their child’s backpack and can leave notes for you in the folder as needed. This simple tool can really improve parent-teacher communication in your classroom.
5. Send Home a Parent Handbook Flip Book
My absolute favorite strategy to improve parent communication at the beginning of the year is a parent handbook flip book. It’s an excellent resource for families because they can reference it as often as needed. To make sure that it doesn’t get lost in a pile of back-to-school paperwork, I suggest printing it off on Astrobright paper (affiliate link).
The best part about a parent handbook is that it answers frequently asked questions that always pop up at the beginning of the school year:
- What time is school dismissed?
- How do I add money to my child’s lunch account?
- What day does my child need to wear PE shoes?
- …and so on.
This means that you won’t be fielding so many of these questions when you sit down to check your email. As a result, you’ll have more time to craft thoughtful replies to trickier parent questions or concerns. This can go a long way in fostering open communication with families!
Printable Flip Book for Parents
Would you like to use a parent handbook flipbook in your classroom this year? I have created a download that makes it super easy to customize and print your own parent flipbooks for the beginning of the school year! If you’d like to take a closer look at everything included in this resource, you can find it in the A Spoonful of Learning shop or on TPT.
Save These Tips for Parent-Teacher Communication
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