Communicating with parents and guardians can be daunting. It often begins at school registration, continues the first day of school, extends into Open House night, and then is sustained throughout the school year. With the high U.S. student mobility rate (according to the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study [National Center for Education Statistics, 2017], 42% of students make at least one school change between kindergarten and fifth grade), plenty of beginning and mid-year parent and guardian communication is necessary. How can a teacher maintain this level of communication without adding to the already-hectic workload? The answer is simple: Turn to technology and create a video.
YouTube for Teachers (and other platforms), and the ease of creating CDs, make it simple to create a video to share both at Open House and throughout the year as new families join your classroom. You and your students (with media permission from parents/guardians) perform in the video and include the following:
Parents want to know who you are, what your background is, and that you have the skills to teach their children. Don’t be shy about mentioning your educational degrees and any special training received.
Groups of students can discuss each of the core areas. This is a great place to mention education standards and show a website where parents can access the standards.
3. Class Rules
Have students discuss the class rules, how they were formed, what they are, and the consequences for breaking the rules.
4. Daily Schedule
Students should highlight the daily schedule. This can be generalized but should include activity periods (art, music, etc.), lunch, and opening and closing bell times.
Discuss how parents are cleared to assist in the classroom (background check, etc.). For parents who cannot assist in the classroom but want to help, tell them how to find out about activities they can do at home (cutting out things, donating items, etc.). Some teachers have a “giving tree” in the classroom (a tree branch in a bucket filled with rocks or concrete with leaves listing items to donate to the classroom). These items are also listed on the classroom website or newsletter.
6. Special Projects
Explain any special projects that are planned during the school year and when these occur.
Have students explain what parents are supposed to do if their student is going to miss school due to an illness (including obtaining makeup work) or if he or she becomes ill during the school day.
This final section is completed by the teacher only. Discuss communication issues such as how and when parents/guardians should communicate with you, how and when you will respond to them, and how you will communicate with them on a regular basis (weekly newsletter, website, etc.); pick-up procedures and how to make changes; child custody paperwork; and other items unique to your school environment. End the video on a positive note, thanking the parents for sharing their children with you and pledging that you will provide them a quality education in a supportive environment.
By creating a video once, you lighten your workload for the future. Parents/guardians feel welcomed and informed and know their child will be well cared for.
Dr. Kovarik has experience as an elementary teacher, a guidance counselor, a primary specialist, and a school administrator. She currently teaches graduate TESOL courses in the online program at Notre Dame de Namur University. She coauthored The ABC’s of Classroom Management, 2nd Edition, which is highly recommended for all new teachers.
National Center for Education Statistics. (2017). Early childhood longitudinal study (ECLS). Retrieved from https://nces.ed.gov/ecls