The optimum conditions for a successful school
year include the cooperative efforts of parents and teachers.
Unfortunately, our contact with parents is limited. Traditionally,
parents have been kept at arm's length, to be spoken to
briefly at dismissal, Parent Teacher Conferences and occasional
meetings during the year, which are generally conducted
only if the student is having a problem. It is incumbent
upon us to initiate a partnership with parents and encourage
their involvement. Letters are one of the most important
ways we contact parents, which makes the tone, content,
and clarity of the letters vital.
I have divided the types of letters into
three categories: Introductory, Informational, and Meetings.
I have included different types of what I
call "Entrance" letters.
Sample Letter 1:
Take your time composing this letter - it is your introduction
to the parents. Listen to the tone of your letter. Remember,
you are developing a relationship. Would your letter entice
you to become involved? The first is a brief greeting
and includes a supply list. I would distribute this letter
on the first day of school.
Sample Letter 2:
Another letter identifies essential school rules and includes
the times I am available for appointments. You should always
make sure the parents know how or when they can contact
you. They need to know that you are approachable - and you
should be approachable.
Sample Letter 3: Expectations
The longest sample letter is a very detailed explanation
of my expectations for the year. I would generally present
this to parents during my curriculum conference. I try to
hold my curriculum conference with my parents as early in
the school year as possible. You might consider holding
it after school during the first week of school.
In the event that a student is transferred into your class,
either from another class or another school, you might choose
to personalize your introductory letter. No matter the circumstances
of the transfer, this is a difficult situation for both
the child and parent. A personal touch, including the student's
name, and addressing the letter specifically to that parent,
might smooth the transition and facilitate building a relationship
with the parent.
On the first day of school I present each child with a "care
package." A little bag contains a few token items and the
above note explaining the purpose of each. The children
may not understand the symbolism but the parents appreciate
Some things for you as you start school:
Tissues - to dry your tears.
A Hug and a Kiss - so you will always feel
A band aid - in case your feelings get hurt.
An eraser - because everyone makes mistakes.
A sticker - as a reward for doing the best
you can -- because that's all anyone can ask of you.
Letters that convey information are sent throughout
the school year. During Parent Teacher Conference season,
and throughout the year, it is wise to be in contact with
your parents. I have also included a letter which could
be sent at the end of the year, summarizing the good things
you and your class have accomplished, and advising parents
how they can keep the momentum going.
Having models for your letters saves time
for you and sets a tone for the parents that you are caring,
concerned, and organized. It is incumbent upon us to initiate
a partnership with parents and encourage their involvement.
Letters are one of the most important ways we contact parents,
which makes the tone, content, and clarity of the letters
Informational letters include
trip notes, permission
slips, and homework
assignments. A "please" and "thank you" can go a
long way. I suggest that these notes be brief and to the
point. Parents shouldn't have to search for information.
LETTERS ANNOUNCING MEETINGS
Parent Teacher Conference
In order to avoid a crush of parents you might
schedule appointments. I recommend that you survey
your parents as to the time of day that is most convenient
for them to meet you. Be mindful of differing work schedules.
It is the same courtesy you would want extended to you.
Once an appointment has been made, send a note confirming
If a parent does not attend Parent Teacher
Conference you should
attempt to schedule another appointment. Do not
assume that the parent is simply not interested in meeting
with you - things happen. Give the parent the benefit of
We rarely schedule meetings with parents because things
are going well. Because of this, we need to be tactful when
arranging these meetings. Give parents a few dates from
which they can choose. I request that my parents sign next
to their preferred date and I provide them with a copy of
the note. You should keep the signed copy on file. Always
keep accurate records of meetings and conversations you
have with parents.
The Exit Letter
letter" is not necessary but you and your students
have worked hard all year and it would be a shame to let
all that hard work fall by the wayside. A few tips to parents
on how they can help their children might be appreciated.
It is also important to remember this:
IF YOU ALWAYS TELL THE BAD - THEN YOU SHOULD
ALSO TELL THE GOOD.