One of my (many) personal goals this year is to find ways to improve parent communication with those families on my caseload. I spent most of my summer working in a clinic and was quickly reminded how vital parent involvement is in treatment! This is my second consecutive school year in the same building, a first for me, and I’m tucking my tail between my legs when I tell you that last year the only time I saw some parents were at our annual case conference. Yikes.
We’re just over a month into the school year, and using some of these tips have already greatly improved my parent communication, which means better progress for my kiddos. What’s not to love?!
At the end of the year last year, our Principal started using a program called “Remind” and I instantly jumped on board! The only requirements? The ability to send (and if you’re a parent, recieve) a text message. Remind is a free program that allows educators to safely text members/families in their classroom. Your number isn’t shared, and recipients of the text can’t reply, but I use this service often to text reminders to parents about homework and case conferences. You can download the free app or send messages from the website–all families need is your unique class code and password to sign up!
Click here to visit Remind.
2. Communication Journals
I took a hint from our Functional Skills students and have started communication journaling with a few of my students, especially my low/non-verbal students. All I do is stick a notebook,or a folder with paper in it labeled “Speech” and keep it in my student’s book bag. I write notes as needed, or any questions I may have (family names if we’re working on “who” questions or other specifics about a student) and parents write back. Or, since my Functional Skills students already have communication notebooks sent home by their teacher, I’ll jot something in the teacher’s entry for the day when I drop the student off after our session.
Almost every one of my favorite TPT sellers have homework packets–some seasonal, and some for the entire school year. I’ve been totally blown away at the amount of parents who will jot notes on homework sheets like “This was hard” (a certain sound, position or language task), “Sorry this is late” or comments about how great their student did. Some of my favorite homework packets are from Crazy Speech World and Busy Bee Speech.
My newsletters have been another big hit in my building this year! The first week of each month I send them out via e-mail. My students take some so. much. paper. (see #3!) that often things get overlooked. I work in a highest-poverty elementary, but a good majority of our families have access to e-mail on their phones or can check it at a local library. One of the PTA members at my school reminds me how much she loves these one-page documents almost every time she sees me! Like using Remind, technology is my friend when it comes to avoiding the black hole that is some of my student’s backpacks. We’ll work on that executive functioning later. Click here to check out my Editable Newsletters.
5. Get involved
Our days are long and I’m the first one to tell you my paperwork stack is huge. But one of the easiest ways I’ve found to connect with parents is to get involved at my school! Volunteering at school carnival, helping at dismissal/arrival, being present at Back to School night, etc. is a great way to simply show your face. More times than not, at least one of my students will run up to say “hi” at an event like this, or at least wave from across the room, and their parents want to know who they’re so excited to see. While I usually don’t talk about about sensitive information in these “public” settings, it helps for both the parent and I to put a face with a name and continue to build a relationship.
What ways have you found parent communication to be easiest? I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments!