The new school year is about to start. In addition to welcoming new students, you will be welcoming a new set of parents as well! To start the year off right, here are a few ideas for welcoming and engaging them.
Mail a letter to each family prior to school starting. The letter should introduce yourself, exhibit excitement about the school year, and set the stage for the first day of school. Parents will know you are passionate about your classrooms and are already thinking about the school year. If you are unable to mail the letter ahead of time, send it home with the students the first day of school.
Create a reminder with your contact information on it. Design a bookmark, magnet, or business card with your name, school address, phone number and extension, and email address. Provide it to parents early in the school year. This simple gesture shows parents they are welcome to contact you with any questions or concerns.
Ask parents to complete a survey about their children/families. Parents know their children best. Sending a survey home not only provides you insights into their children, but also demonstrates that you care enough to ask. Be sure to include a place for them to indicate contact information—such as their names and best ways and best times for you to reach them. This is also an excellent place to find out if parents are willing to volunteer in the classroom or prepare materials at home.
Make a personal contact within the first few weeks of school. Connect with parents by phone or in person after a few weeks of school. Ask if they have any questions and inquire about anything they think you should know about their children or family situations. It takes a little bit of time, but parents really appreciate the effort and the insight it provides is well worth the time.
Personally invite parents to Back-to-School Night. Most schools have an event at which parents can preview curriculum and meet the teacher. Invite parents to this important event when you make a phone call, talk to parents before or after school if they are on campus, or send a personal note. E-mail invitations are quick and easy!
Make yourself available immediately before and after school, especially during the first few weeks of school. Standing at your door to greet/dismiss your students helps you connect students with their families as well as shows your availability and interest in both students and parents.
Of course there are many other ways to welcome parents to the new school year. The possibilities are limitless. Choose a few that work with your style and watch the school year get off to a great start!
Jodene Smith has been teaching for more than 20 years in Orange County, California, particularly in the primary grades. She and her husband, Dave, have two school-aged children. The couple eagerly awaits the publication of their first co-authored book, due to release this summer: History of Comics Books, published by Teacher Created Materials.