What to Say to Parents Now

Photograph by Jeff Woodward.I can’t begin to describe how important the exchanges I’ve had with my children’s teachers and principal have been to me this week. At various times, each of them reached out to let me and other school families know that all was well at school and with our children, and those reassurances meant the world to me as a parent. I hope you will be able to find a way to connect with your students’ families at least one more time before the first long school vacation of the year begins.

These last days before vacation are always an important time to communicate with families. It’s an opportunity to help parents and other caretakers prepare for a successful time away from school, and to give families information that will help ease the transition back in January. Here are some ideas for a simple message to send home before school ends this week:

Tell a bit about how the week went, emphasizing normalcy.

If the Newtown tragedy has been a topic for your class, parents will want to know what children have been asking about in school and how you responded. However, parents also want to know about the other things that happened in school this week—that, as my daughter’s 5th grade teacher put it: “Things were as normal as could be.” (I knew that was the truth when, on Monday afternoon, I asked Riley what was hard about her day and her response was “Graphs! Graphs are hard!”)

Share about what their children might look forward to doing in school after vacation.

A preview of exciting happenings coming up in January—whether it’s science fair projects, reading with book buddies, or creating plays about pioneer life—can be a conversation starter that helps parents talk with their children about learning and school. It can also create an opening for families to talk about worries and fears children may have about going back to school.

Ask them to help their children make a successful transition back to school.

For instance, you might encourage families to keep reading and practicing math facts for a few minutes a day, or suggest reinstating routines (such as earlier bedtimes) gradually as the end of vacation approaches. Asking questions such as “What are you looking forward to about going back to school?”, “What will you do first thing?”, “What have you missed?”, or “What will you miss about home?” can help parents get a sense of how children are feeling as they get ready to head back to school.

Let parents know that you welcome their insights, questions, and comments, particularly if they have concerns about their child.

Now is a great time to say something like “Let me know if you notice any changes in your child’s behavior or mood, and I will do the same—that way we can work together to help your child through this time.”

Home-school connections feel more important than ever to me these days, as a parent, and as a teacher. I hope these suggestions are helpful and will make it easier for you to communicate with your students’ families in the next few days.


Carol Davis is a professional development designer at Center for Responsive Schools.

 

Tags: Back to School w/ Families, Difficulties with Families, Family Connections, Working with Families

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