parent communication

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I’m curious as to how other teachers out there choose to communicate with parents.  I just bought a book about how an early childhood professional can put together a parent newsletter – I was thinking about doing monthly newsletters next school year.  I know that I don’t communicate and involve parents as much as I should – it’s a big shortcoming for me – it always has been.  A big part of me just wants the parents to leave so that I can do my job in peace – horrible, I know!  But I’m trying to rectify this and I would be glad to have some ideas.

Parents at my school don’t seem to want to get involved – but I still think I have a duty to somehow communicate to them what we do in class.  Maybe they wouldn’t complain so much about paperwork if they had more of an idea what we do each day.  I know of teachers that send home daily reports for each child – but this just seems like a lot of work!  I’ve heard of others that post pictures of what happens each month in their class on a special bulletin board.   Others do parent-teacher conferences and show work examples every few months.  On a side note – my directer informed me when I was hired that we “don’t do” parent-teacher conferences.  She said that was only “needed in Kindergarten and not in preschool”.

So, I was wondering what everyone out there does to communicate with their parents?  I’d be interested to hear what you do – and maybe get some ideas I can use next year!

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About deepbluetide

I am a pre-kindergarten teacher at a private christian school. I work mornings with 4 year olds (most of whom enter my class in July still being 3 - they're babies!) and then in the afternoon work "daycare" - which is basically my own class combined with 5 year old children. One things for sure - it's never dull! I had no idea growing up I would be teaching pre-k today! It took me totally off guard - but in the end I wouldn't change a thing! I have worked with children whose age range is 6 weeks through 12 years. In the end I have decided that my current age group is my favorite! And in case you were wondering - all names mentioned are changed to protect the identities of those involved. Enjoy!

11 responses »

  1. i hear you. one thing i started doing a couple of years ago is daily show and tell. in a monthly newsletter i announce what the show and tell item for the week is (during B week children are invited to bring something blue on their school days, during R week children are invited to bring rain coats).

    we make this optional and keep that tone during Show and Tell so that children don’t feel “left out” etc.

    it is one small way to keep families familiar with what we’re doing.

    and the preschool blog is one of the best things i’ve done for keeping families in the loop.

    anyway, there is always more to do.

  2. Each lead teacher at my preschool is required to do a weekly email to the parents during the regular year that is kind of like a newsletter. Because my population is fairly affluent and all connected this works well as a form of communication. In the summer it is more relaxed and the director sends one out to all the parents every couple of weeks.

  3. I did a weekly newsletter (you can see an example at http://www.pre-kpages.com/bearbook.html) and it was very effective. I used text boxes to break info up into little “easy to read bites” and added clipart to every box to make it more appealing to read. Each box was designated for a different thing, like one box for school holidays that were coming up, another for student birthdays, one for thematic units etc. so the parents got used to looking in the same places for important info. I didn’t just send the newsletter home though, I had to train the parents to read it 🙂 One of the ways I did that was to use the BEAR books (same link as above). Once I trained them to read the newsletter and use the BEAR book properly things got a lot better and I had the most involved parents in the school. If your parents have computers and internet access e-mails and blogging are also very effective tools. I work in a very low income, high ESL school district so those weren’t options for me.

    I’m sorry you can’t do parent conferences- it’s a very powerful way to communicate with parents and show them what their child is learning. It seems a little odd if you ask me, don’t the parents want them? How about portfolios? Karen at prekinders.com has a great portfolio page that you might find useful, some of her ideas could be sent home instead of shared at conferences.

  4. I have yet to do the BEAR books as Vannatx suggested but I know a few that have with great success. It’s something I also want to add next year. I use a daily folder that stays in class but gets checked by the parents everyday. We have an open house in the beginning of the year were I make a folder full of information and I speak about what we do, even set up a few activities for the parents. I have about 6 family projects throughout the year to help keep them on their toes (lol). I give my email address that a few use but most of all I come in early to build a relationship w/ my families as they bring their child in each day. If they don’t speak to me, I make sure to speak to them. I’m a talker, so, it’s not that hard for me. I usually break the ice and end up with great relationships w/ my families.

  5. Hi there. We do a weekly newsletter that we email out to all the parents as well as posting one hard copy on the notice board. We also take loads of pictures each day, and put the lap top out at home time for parents to watch the slide show – a great visual image of what we have all been up to each day.

  6. I do a monthly newsletter with a calendar on the front and a letter to parents on the back. If I have volunteer opportunities I send home seperate notes for those. Our school has a website now, and I’m thinking of having them post a link and I’ll start a basic blog for parents too. We’ll have to see how much work I have time for though.

    I also do conferences at my preschool in November and in March. I keep a folder of work samples from the children, and that goes home with the parents in March. I may keep it until the end of the year this coming school year. I keep name writing samples, drawings of people, cutting samples, and art projects that take multiple steps to complete. In the seven years I’ve been teaching preschool, the conferences have become more in depth. I’m not sure how I feel about that, but this year, I really felt I knew my students, and I’m sure keeping those folders was a big part of that. If you don’t do conferences you could always keep these work sample folders that could be sent home periodically, or just at the end of the year. You could even design a simple “report card” that lets parents see what their child has shown you that they’ve learned at preschool.

  7. Agreed, sometimes it can be a challenge to communicate with parents, but it is so important to make the information available in as many ways as possible.

    Like Mrsvierkant, we also supply regular newsletters, both online and offline, to our parents. We do the same with classroom calendars.

    We also have set times for parent-teacher conferences but our teachers make an effort to reach out for additional meetings whenever closer contact is needed.

    We also supply parents with a regular update of their child’s week. In addition to activities and events, we make note of progress on targeted skills. This is information is part of our regular reporting, so we pass it along to parents in hopes of keeping everyone on the same team.

  8. Our school does do monthly newsletters, although I’m not sure they alwasy get read. Another thing we started a couple of years ago was putting a white board out at the end of the day Titled “What did we do Today?” I write up a short sheet every day with our theme, skill, craft, snack, leader, visitor, trip, book we read,etc. It’s a good place to also give a heads up about next day events and needs. I also always keep a show-n-tell list and a leader list on there. Again, not always sure it gets read, but we try.

    • i like the white board idea – we have one hanging above our circle time carpet but don’t use it much due to its being at adult height – so i think i will use it for this purpose – thanks!

  9. Trish, the whiteboard is a great idea. The end of the day can be a hectic time for everyone, but having the info there as a quick ‘soundbite’ sounds like a good way to keep parents in the loop when they are short on time.

    Agreed on the newsletter. We find that to be true as well. It’s a situation where you can bring the horse to water, but can’t make it drink. I think the best bet is to provide the information in as many convenient ways as possible to increase the number of parents that look it over.

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