September, 2014
Open Communication
Open communication is a key to any relationship.

School Handbook - A school handbook is essential to making sure everyone is clear about the school’s policies, procedures, standards, and goals. A meeting with the families where you go over the handbook and answer their questions will eliminate many questions and complaints through the year. In addition to information your school district provides, you might want to include your daily schedule, how to help your child get organized, the importance of getting a good night’s sleep and having a nutritious breakfast, providing children with ample opportunities to play outside, supplies your child will need, yearly calendar, and so forth.

Suggestion Box - Be open to parent’s comments and input. Listen, listen, listen! Problem solve and involve them in decision making.

Newsletters - Keep parents informed! “Advertise” all the great things the children are doing and learning. Include words to the children’s favorite songs, finger plays, recipes, websites for children, local events, etc.

Website - A class website or blog can be used to share daily adventures with families. *Be sure to respect privacy and control access to internet information.

Open Door - Open your door and welcome parents to visit, observe, and volunteer. Listen to parent’s concerns and criticisms. If there is a problem, encourage the parents to volunteer and be a part of the solution!

Parent Support - With our mobile society, many parents don’t have the support of a family or spouse. Offer workshops, support groups, videos, or books on topics of interest, such as discipline, reading, nutrition, sibling rivalry, and so forth.

Family Resource Library - Create a family resource library where parents can check out books, articles, or videos about parenting issues.

Party Time - Plan parties for parents, grandparents, and other family members. Arrange open houses, pot luck dinners, plays, and movie nights, game nights, etc. Muffins with mom, doughnuts with dad, and Grandparent’s day are always a huge hit!

Happy Grams - Send home positive comments and notes about children’s successes.

Surprise Phone Calls and Emails - Surprise parents at work or home with a “good news” message about their child. This is especially reassuring during the first few weeks of school.

Communication Coupons - Run off five copies of each of the coupons below. It will be more effective if you run each coupon off on a different color of paper. Punch holes in the top left corner of the coupons and tie with a ribbon. Distribute these to parents at your orientation meeting and encourage them to use these for quick communication. (Thanks to Bonnie Dennison for this idea.)

Hint! Adapt coupons to meet the needs of your program. Click here to download a printable version.



Please excuse my child from school on __________________________________________
because _________________________________________________________________
                  _________________________________        _________________________
                                Signature                                             Date



Please excuse my child for being late on ________________________________________ because_________________________________________________________________                                                    _________________________________        _________________________
                                Signature                                             Date



My child will be picked up today at___________________________________________ (Time)
by __________________________________________________________________ (Name)                                              _________________________________        _________________________
                                Signature                                             Date



Please give me a call _______________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________                                                      _________________________________        _________________________
                                Signature                                             Date


What’s in Your Backpack? Share this poem at an orientation meeting, or send it home in a paper bag backpack the beginning of the school year to remind parents of all the ways children are developing and learning as they play at school. Click Downloads in the menu at the top left for a printable copy of this poem.

What’s in your backpack?
It’s empty today.
Where’s your work?
Did you just play?

I counted and sorted
And measured, too.
I used my brain
Like a math whiz would do!

When I built with blocks
I learned about shapes.
I balanced and shared -
Our skyscraper was great.

Out on the playground
I ran like the wind.
I learned to take turns
And helped a hurt friend.

I played in the windy house
And talked with my friends
I rocked a baby
And played pretend.

Story time is what
I always like best.
I can use my imagination
And give my body a rest.

In science I observed,
Guessed, and experimented, too.
The same things grown up
Scientists do.

I sang and danced -
Learned a finger play, too.
I answered questions
and said, “Please” and “Thank you.”

Art was messy.
I created and explored.
I solved my own problem
When I spilled glue on the floor.

There will be time
for worksheets and tests,
But talking and playing
Is how I learn best.

My fingers got a work out
With puzzles and clay.
Those same muscles
Will help me write one day.

I love to go to school.
I’m glad I’m me.
An empty backpack
Means I’m learning, you see!

Parent Conferences
Be prepared! Be professional! Be positive!

Conferences are a time for both parents and teachers to share information about the child. By sending home a questionnaire similar to the one attached before the conference, the parent will feel more involved and will have more input. The teacher should have examples of the child’s work, observations, and a checklist compiled before the conference.

Here are some other helpful suggestions:

Be friendly, relaxed, and smile.
Sit beside the parent at a table, rather than behind a desk.
Keep the conversation focused on the child.
Start off with positive comments about the child.
Review the questionnaire the parents have filled out. Encourage them to openly share their feelings about their child and school.
Share the work samples and include the child’s intellectual, physical, social, and emotional development.
Discuss goals and future plans. Give the parents specific ideas for how they can help their child at home.
If there is a problem, brainstorm solutions and develop a plan for action.
End the conference on a positive note by reassuring parents and thanking them for their support.
Follow up with parents on their child’s progress.
Hint! Provide flexible scheduling to accommodate work schedules. Offer interpreters for parents who speak another language.

Please fill out the form below and bring it with you to the conference.
Child’s Name___________________________ Date_________________

My child’s favorite activity at school is______________________________
My child expresses concern about__________________________________
My child’s strong qualities are_____________________________________
Areas I feel my child needs to work on are___________________________
Something my child would like to do at school is _____________________
Something I would like to see my child do at school is _________________
Is there any information about your child that you think we should know? Click Downloads for a printable version.

This is an ongoing assessment technique that can be used to communicate with parents and demonstrate individual progress and development.

At the beginning of each month give children a 9” x 12” clasp envelope. Write the month on the front and then have them decorate it with a self-portrait, their name, a handprint, etc. Place envelopes in a box with the flap open. Write each child’s name on the flap of their envelope. As the children complete different projects during the month, file their work in their envelopes. Examples might include self portraits, writing samples, drawings, art work, paintings, photos, anecdotal records, cutting and pasting samples, and so forth. Encourage children to add work they are proud of. These can be used at conference time to demonstrate children’s progress to the parents.

At the end of the year, put the envelopes in monthly order and bind like a book. It will be a keepsake memory and a meaningful documentation of the child’s learning throughout the school year.

Interest Inventory - Have children fill in the blanks and share with parents at your conference:

The best thing about me…
My favorite thing at school…
I like to…
I am working on…
My favorite book is…
My friends are…
I wish I could…

Four Square Assessment - This is an ongoing assessment that will show children’s progress throughout the year. Each month fold a sheet of paper into fourths. In the top left section ask children to draw a picture of themselves. In the top right section have them write their name. In the bottom left corner ask them to draw shapes. In the bottom right section tell them to write all the letters they can. Be sure to date the work before saving it.

Note! Even though children may not be able to write their names or letters at the beginning of the year, each month there will be dramatic growth in motor control.

Parent Volunteers We need your help!
There are many ways that parents can get involved and contribute to their child’s education. A good place to start would be an interest inventory where parents have the opportunity to discuss their experiences, hobbies, and talents.

Here are other some suggestions where parents could check off how they will support your program:

Attend meetings and conferences.
Chaperone field trips.
Make phone calls or send emails.
Plan parties.
Collect free items for projects.
Participate in recycling programs.
Make games and materials for the classroom.
Assist with technology for the classroom.
Plan service projects and fund raisers.
Share their culture, trips, career, or a hobby with the children.
Volunteer to tell stories, assist with learning centers, help with a project.
Tutor children.
Participate in clean-up days or repair broken equipment.
Compile a class scrapbook or video.
Advocacy for legislation that supports children and education.

Brown Bag Special
This is perfect for working parents. Put materials for making games, art projects, etc. in a brown grocery sack. You could also put websites with games or books you want run off. Children get to deliver the “brown bag special” to their parents to complete at home. They will be so proud to return the bag knowing that their parent is involved in their classroom!


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