I wish I could take credit for this teaching gem that I am about to share with you. My sister (who started teaching five years before I did) shared this letter with me before my first year teaching. For the next 12 years, I made sure to send it home on the very first day of school.
This letter is seriously the most important thing I send home all year! I call this letter “Parent Homework,” which the students get a kick out of. Before I get into why I think every teacher should send a letter like this home, please read on…
This letter serves many purposes, but perhaps the most important reason to send it home is to let parents know (from the very first day of school) that you value their input. Parents need to feel “heard” and that their “voice” is welcome. When you send this letter home, you are giving them this great opportunity to communicate with you in an appropriate way. It also offers parents a sense of relief to fill you in on the details of their child; just knowing that they have shared this with you will prevent future communication issues.
Aside from establishing a positive relationship with parents, this letter really helps you to get to know your students better. There have been years where I had 36 students in my class!!! When I read these letters (many are sent back within the first few days of school), I get to know my students so much faster. BONUS: You get to learn a lot about the parents as well, which is helpful for future communication.
This letter also establishes communication boundaries. It lets the parents know that these letters will be read and addressed during conferences. There is no need for you to follow up until that time.
If you are not sending something like this home on the first day of school, I really urge you to! You will find that this simple act will not only inform you about your students, but it will also set the stage for positive home-communication for the rest of the school year! Click HERE for an editable version of this letter.