Establishing a strong bond with the families of your students is vital. Good and frequent communication is key. Some of our Really Good Teachers share how they nurture the bonds between home and school in the tips below.
Help Students Note Their Thanks
“Whenever we enjoy a snack donation from home,” says Gilda from Weatherford, Texas, “I help my kindergarten students write a thank you note to the parent who donated the snack. I create a one-page template that allows each student to provide a self-portrait. I then make copies of the blank template to use throughout the year. After drawing our smiling faces in the spaces provided, we take turns writing or dictating a note to go with the portrait page. Parents love receiving our notes, and my students learn the importance of expressing appreciation for even small kindnesses.”
How E-mail Helps Students Take Charge of Their Own School Progress
Vicki, a 4-6 Grade Reading Teacher in Rineyville, Kentucky makes use of email with her students. “I no longer phone home when students have difficulty adhering to rules or are missing assignments. Now, I have students e-mail their parents to notify them of the situation as well as to offer students a chance to explain and offer solutions for next time,” she explains.
“This approach allows student to be accountable for their actions. It also provides students’ parents and me with insight into their thought process that may be preventing them from doing their best, and allows us all a peek at the students’ own ideas for helping themselves. That way, their parents and I can support the students’ efforts or guide them in different directions. I also encourage students to e-mail parents with positive progress reports and stories of solutions that have worked well.”
Photo by Muffet (flickr.com)
Recipe Writing Exercise Informs Families of Children’s Food Preferences
“Here’s a twist on an old favorite,” explains Cindy, a 3rd Grade Teacher from Eaton, Ohio. “Instead of asking kids to bring in a favorite recipe from home, help them locate and record recipes in school that they wish they and their families could make at home. ”
“To do this in my class, I borrow several books of kids’ recipes from our public library. I give my students large recipe cards and invite them to copy one or more recipes they wish they could sample,” she says. “On the flip side of the card, I have them jot a note to parents telling them why they think this would be a fun recipe to try. Some students report that their families really did make the recipes at home. At the very least, families got a peek into their child’s preferences, and my students had some practice in authentic reading and writing.”
Weekly Newsletter Connects Families to Classroom Happenings
“I develop our weekly class newsletter so it doubles as a two-way home-school communication piece,” says Julie, a 2nd Grade Teacher in Millstadt, Illinois. “In addition to featuring student news, each newsletter includes a list of ongoing class activities and happenings, such as what we are learning, reading, creating, etc. It also includes a homework section detailing assignments for each subject, a notification of upcoming tests, as well as a list of spelling and vocabulary words. I also include a class announcements section and a calendar section noting future events and early dismissals. On the bottom of the newsletter I provide a “cut away” comment section for parents to fill out, sign, and return to class. Parents tell me they appreciate this system, and I find it helps me stay informed as well.”
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