I want parents to feel like we’re a team, a village, raising their children together. I don’t want the first time I communicate with a parent to be because their kid is having trouble. I know that a lot of counselors send out generic monthly newsletters, but I thought about what I would want from a counselor or teacher and then started doing that. Every time I teach a lesson for a grade level (once every three weeks) I send out an email to parents to communicate about that lesson. I tell them my lesson objective, a general overview of the teaching, and some sort of resource for them to reinforce at home.
I can’t overstate the benefits of this communication enough. Parents have reached out to thank me for keeping them in the loop and for giving them resources to support their kids. It seems silly, but sometimes I forget that parents don’t know what I know and they don’t have the skills or knowledge that I have as a counselor. Most parents don’t know how to teach cooperation, empathy, or self-control, but I do and can share strategies with them to reinforce those lessons. I don’t imagine that most parents are sitting around thinking “Gosh, I really wish my child was more empathetic,” but when I share with them the power of empathy and the value it will have on helping their child develop relationships over the course of their life, suddenly, they’re reinforcing those skills at home.
I write my letters home to parents with professionalism, but also an air of friendliness. I try to imagine I’m writing to one of my friends who wants to be a better mother and then write about what I taught her kid and what I think would help her to model or work with her kids at home. I’ll admit that writing these emails takes longer than the traditional newsletter, but doing it this way makes me feel so much more connected with the families of my students.
I have included a few quotes that parents sent me after I’d emailed them my lesson update. Parents don’t need to feel like they’re a patron of the school, they need to feel like they and their students belong there. I’m looking forward to the day when school feels like a community of people who love and care about kids, and I think this is one small step in that direction.
“I love your lessons! Thanks for communicating to parents what you do.”
“Thank you so much!! We appreciate you.”
“Wow, this is some great stuff. I’ll have to print the article you attached and highlight and take some notes!”
It’s pretty great knowing that parents are out there wanting the information you’re providing, but try not to be too impressed by the parent who told me they were going to “take notes,” she needed my help.