Conquer Parent Communication with One Easy-to-Use Newsletter

We all know that positive, effective communication between parents and teachers is the key to student success. This is why I am always searching for more and better ways to communicate with my parents. I use a variety of methods to communicate with parents; today we will discuss the classroom newsletter.

Since we have just met, you probably don't know about my obsession for all things to match. Some may say I am OCD, others say I need a hobby, some appreciate it, and others dread the fact that e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g. must match. For me, matching brings me a sense of calm and allows me to focus. We will talk more about that another day. 

I generally send home a newsletter once a month. Many teachers (myself included) have spent hours cleverly crafting newsletters that not a single parent reads!

6 Tips for Quick and Easy Newsletters

Less is More - Your newsletter should NEVER look like a letter home. This is your chance to convey a message in as few words as possible. Do not write paragraphs. Each section should be no more than 2 sentences long. Remember, in a world that is used to communicating in 140 characters or less...short and sweet gets read. If they want to know more, they can ask their child.

New Content Only - This newsletter is here to give notice to your parents about changes in your classroom. Leave out the class motto or the school mission statement. The more "old news" on the page the less likely it will be read.

The only exception I make to this is my contact information which I include under the title of my newsletter. Parents always seem to lose this and this is an easy way to ensure they have it, again. I put this in a smaller font to conserve space.

White Space Required -  You do not need to fill up every available inch of space with information. Leave white space as this will make it easier to read. Try grouping things into boxes as I have done in my newsletter below. 

Make it Seasonal - Above is an example of my newsletter for the upcoming year. This one the tree has been decorated with tiny Earth's for Earth Day. Isn't it cute? Yep... my room is decorated in a chalkboard theme combined with... oh no you don't! You'll have to wait for another day for that surprise. 

Of course this means that my newsletter needed a chalkboard theme.... Introducing Chalkboard Talk! You can get a set of 6 decorated and 1 blank template in my store for FREE!

Graphics and Pictures - Just like text, too much is not a good thing. I use only one main graphic for my text and switch it out seasonally. I like the "cuteness" of it but I don't want it to take away from my main points. I also switched up my box types to increase my content while also ensuring to leave white space. Pictures I send home in other ways.

Predicable Formats - I use the same format for every newsletter.My goal is for a parent to read this in 1 minute or less as that is probably all the time they will give me. Putting things in a predictable format allows the parent to scan for the information they want before they toss it out.

When to Send - In addition to the format being predictable, when the newsletter will arrive home should also be predictable. Decide before the school year starts. Will you send it home on Monday in a special folder? At the end of each month? Every second Tuesday? When? 

More Tips and Tricks!

Below are some ideas I have used before that work out well for various age groups. Consider using one of these items to help increase the chance your newsletter will be read. 

Student Written - Instead of the teacher writing about the week ahead, have the a student write about what they have learned! This could be a simple reflection and could be a "job" in your classroom. It could be one spot where you feature the surprise author or it could be entirely written from the student's perspective.

I have also simply given the student who was in charge before the information I wanted included and they filled it in for me. This is a great idea for older students.

Behavior Checks - This works best for younger students. Send home a quick note at the bottom that says "Johnny had a great week!" or add in check boxes for different behaviors. This is a great way to get parents to read a newsletter.

Electronic Versions - If you have a class website or blog, I highly recommend that you save any newsletter you send home and upload it digitally to the site as well. Again, this is a great job for one of your students.

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