Communicating with parents has to be one of the most important things we do as special education teachers in the sub separate setting. Many of our students cannot communicate things about their day when they get home as their typical peers do. It is our job that parents have the information they need to be successful at home, as well as some fun information about their child’s day!
There are many ways to communicate with parents. There are many apps you can use, email, text, etc… but I prefer to stick to a classic communication binder. It is easy to be passed back and forth, keeps a tracking of how days/nights are going if you need to look back, and is simple enough for ALL parents to understand.
These binder makes it easy to keep the notes simple, there are many different variations of different activities and needs, so you can customize for each student. Being able to just select things with a bingo dauber saves you from writing too much.
These parent note tips may help you keep your notes on point!
Of course we need to inform parents of the not-so-poitive too, but I like to start and end everything on a positive note. I like to call it “sandwiching”
“Riley had a great time in gym class sharing with peers but had trouble keeping her hands to herself at recess. Riley turned it around and had a great afternoon!”
“Ryan was a rockstar in speech today but had difficulty staying focused during group work. He came back from lunch refreshed and ready to work!”
Giving a TON of information isn’t always best. Just like we don’t want to read super long notes, parents don’t either. Keep it short and to the point. If it’s longer than can fit in the box, you probably should make a home call. Longer notes leave too much room for negative interpretation, we want to keep everything positive!
I also like to ask a lot of questions in my notes to find out more information about home, or leave things open for parents to give you more information.
“Sam had trouble opening and setting up his snack today after break, has he been practicing this skill at home?”
” Kate loved playing catch outside at recess! What does she like to do outside at home?”
I do sometimes text or email parents if that is what works best for them too, but each of my students has a communication binder for basic communication. Some more intense cases require a bit more. For instance, Students with medical needs may need frequent texting so everyone is on the same page. These parents are usually the best for not bothering you at night or interfering with your day. Students with behavior, I often email behavior reports each time an incident occurs to make sure the parents are aware of everything going on at school.
Another way I like to communicate with parents is through seasonal handouts. I like to slip these tips of how to work on skills over breaks or weekends in with every progress notes. They are simple, but get parents thinking about how they can turn every activity into a learning opportunity for carry over from school.
Sometimes, I even write a simple list of ways to work on their IEP goals in the natural environment at home. For instance, sorting laundry, matching socks, counting dishes.