Parent-teacher communication plays a key role in a family's level of satisfaction with a preschool program, but it also impacts the child's learning experience in a positive way, if handled professionally. While the respectful sharing of ideas and the discussion of a child's concerns or triumphs are best handled one on one, a newsletter keeps parents informed concerning curriculum, upcoming events, birthdays, staff changes or upcoming closings. The Center for Children With Special Needs suggests that child care providers and teachers provide brief informative newsletters on a routine basis to foster meaningful communication between your program and the parents.
Choose your newsletter format. An online newsletter is a green approach to keeping your parents informed about preschool news. But you may have preschool parents who either don't have Internet access or prefer to have a hard copy to post on the refrigerator. One option is to type your newsletter using a word processing program or online template so that you can email the newsletter to the parents who prefer online access and print copies for the ones who prefer a hard copy.
Determine how often you plan to issue or publish a preschool program newsletter. While "as needed" may sound like the way to go, most parents will appreciate the predictability of a regular schedule. Issuing a newsletter weekly may prove to be a time-guzzler, but a monthly or quarterly newsletter should work well, particularly if teachers are following a fixed curriculum or making lesson plans in advance.
Decide what type of information you want to include in the newsletter. Consider including upcoming birthdays, field trips, policy changes, holiday closings and theme parties, as well as preschool toy or equipment wish lists and news from staff or teachers. The National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies lists the sharing of daily or weekly activity plans as a sign of quality child care. You can highlight your program's quality by sharing such details in your newsletter. Information about what the children will be learning is also helpful because it gives parents a chance to reinforce at home what you're doing in the classroom.
Place the most important news at the top of the newsletter or in a conspicuous place designated for important dates or events. For example, if a teacher is planning to have children bring something from home for a theme party or for show-and-tell on a particular day, this needs to be prominently placed in the newsletter.
Highlight fun ways to help preschool students learn through play. You can place such information in a sidebar designed to encourage continued experimentation at home. You might suggest a simple science experiment, for example, that builds on something the children are learning in the classroom.
Tips & Warnings
- A free blog or website is another option for keeping parents updated about important preschool news. Sites such as blogger.com, wordpress.com and weebly.com are simple to navigate and provide easy-to-follow instructions to help you personalize your site to suit your needs.
- Since a newsletter is basically a form of one-way communication, provide a drop box for parents' suggestions for your newsletter, as well as for concerns and upcoming information not related to your newsletter.
- If you opt for an online newsletter, make privacy and protection a priority. Avoid posting the parents' addresses or contact information and don't post pictures of the children without the written permission of their parents.
- Center for Children With Special Needs : Parent-Provider Partnership Skill: Basic Communication Tips
- National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies: Is This the Right Place for My Child? 38 Research-Based Indicators of High-Quality Child Care
- National Network for Child Care; Communicating With Parents; Ronald L. Pitzer
- Purdue University; Parent-Provider Relationships; Judith A. Myers-Walls, Ph.D.
- Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images
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