In order to develop a true educational team for our students with special needs, parent communication is essential. Here are my favorite tips and tricks for simplifying parent communication in the SPED classroom.
1. Communication folders: I like to put myself in my student's parents shoes from time to time. If I had a student who was nonverbal, or had limited communication skills, I think it would be extremely frustrating not to know what my child did on a daily basis. This is the main reason I send home communication folders. Also, it's a quick and easy way to let parents know that they need to send in items or to send home completed work. I always have some parents who do not take the folders out of the student's backpack, but I still send them, in case they ever want to! For these parents, it's important to have another method of communication for important notifications and messages.
I use the plastic pocket folders that you can get at any office supply store. They (usually) last me the whole year, aren't bulky and are super inexpensive. Walmart always has them on sale during Back to School. You will want to decide if you will be the person filling out the folders, or if you want your students to fill out their own folders. I have done this both ways. If you'd rather fill it out yourself, you can create a quick and easy sheet that works for your schedule or you can use these editable ones.
2. Newsletters: I love sending home newsletters. It's an easy way to share what we are doing in class and to provide information and training to my student's families. I send home a monthly newsletter because I don't want to bombard my parents with papers and notes. In each newsletter, I include info about our Core Vocabulary words for the month, our community based instruction focus, donation requests and a blurb with advice about transitioning to adulthood (this is something that I am really passionate about and believe needs to begin in middle school!) I send home a paper copy in the students communication folders and an email copy. Tip: Put all your parent email addresses in your BCC address box to keep them confidential.
3. Google Voice: Guys, this has been a lifesaver! I use text messages as a main form of communication with many of my student's parents and I used to give them my personal cell phone number. Not anymore! Google Voice is free and super easy. You create a phone number, install the app, sync it to your personal number and voila, you are all set! I give this number to my parents and they can call and text it. The best part is that all of my phone records, text messages and voicemails are logged and sent to my email. Boom- instant communication log! Seriously, go check it out! (I'm not getting anything for telling you about this, I just love it and want to make your life easier.)
What's your preferred way to communicate with parents? Leave me a comment below!