It’s that time of year again – BACK TO SCHOOL SEASON! I like to take some time in the summer to get myself organized for the new school year. While there is typically a lot of cleaning my classrooms, organizing my caseload, prepping data sheets, and communicating with teachers, there are also some more fun prep activities! One of those things [for me] is mailing welcome letters! I love creating a little something to introduce myself to my new families. However, I always send something to all my students/families to welcome them to the new school year. Simply Special Ed has a great FREE welcome letter template that is easy to edit and use! When creating these letters, consider including the following information:
Especially for new OT families, I like to give a brief summary of what OT is, and what they can expect throughout the school year. I know some therapists have a set schedule early on in the year, and like to inform parents of what days/times their child will be seen. Typically, I am not that organized before the school year starts! I also often need to change my schedule frequently during the first month of school. Other than the type of service [direct or consult] and frequency in the IEP, I typically don’t give more specific information at this time. I often talk with curious families about scheduling during back to school night. I like to include my “why” in the introduction section as well. OT is a passion of mine where I feel like I am living my life to the fullest by helping my students do the same!
It can be easy to forget, but always include your contact information! Do you work in multiple buildings like me? Note that in your letter! It is good to communicate that email [or whichever contact method] is probably the best way to get a hold of you! In the past, I have used a Google Voice number rather than a direct extension at the school as another way to reach me. Do you use Class DoJo or SeeSaw as a way to communicate with parents? Link that here in your letter as well! These apps can be good modes of “texting” communication with families. I have a website that houses a TON of resources and other information. I typically include a QR code in my welcome letter that links to that site for easy access!
This is a fun part for students to get to know you a little bit better! I have done a few things in the past to make the “favorites” portion of my welcome letter a little more interactive:
- Make it a game!
- I have used scratch off stickers [affiliate link] to make a little guessing game for my students to complete to find out my favorite things! I type the answers, and cover them. Using a coin [like on a lottery ticket], students can uncover the correct answers after they guess! They loved this quick fine motor activity over the summer!
- Get to know your students too!
- I have created Google Form surveys for my students to fill out with their families to tell me about their favorite things too! I typically also include other information about their goals for the year or what they feel like their strengths are. I use QR codes for this as well!
Anything else you’d like to share can go here! I typically include how long I’ve worked in my position, and where I went to college to get my degree. I like to discuss hobbies or things I do outside of work. Since a lot of my families know me from the year prior, I like to include things about my summer that they wouldn’t already know.
I edited this template on Kami, but there are tons of ways to personalize it! It includes a variety of color and black and white versions as well as sample [different than mine above]. I have blogged previously about back to school night as a related service provider, so check out that blog for more suggestions on how to maximize the beginning of the year communication with families!