School’s out for summer! Or is it really?!? It all depends on your program and your perspective. My program operates from Labor Day to Memorial Day, so the students have already been out for three weeks. We do have some summer sessions and already have one of those under our belt, too. If your program is year round, summer may not necessarily bring much change in routine for you. The one universal is while your summer routine may be different, it is certainly not the time to slack off with communication!
I will always remember this general statement by a restaurant manager while I was waiting tables years ago:
“If you can keep on top of your work when it’s slower, you’ll have no problem keeping up when it’s busy!”
In some ways that may seem counter-intuitive, but if you think about it, it really does make sense. When we have less going on, we may take things a little slower and when things are busier we generally plan things out more and multi-task at a high pace. I think the same is true with communication—keeping up with parents during the summer will help make communicating with parents smoother come the school year.
School Communication Reflection Time
As educators, the end of a school year and summer break gives us a unique opportunity for reflection and adjustment. So, I always take some time in the beginning of summer to reflect on the past school year. What worked well? What could I do differently? Are there opportunities to strengthen the collaboration and communication between parents and school? Inevitably there are answers for all three questions so that shapes my work for the summer and my communication goals for the coming year. I also ask for parent input on this part because what works for me might not be what works for them and with close to 100 families there are varied needs when it comes to communication.
Parents Need Repetition Of Information Just Like Children
You never want to assume your parents know about something. Sometimes, I find myself planning and thinking about events so much that I think parents know all about them too. Instead, parents are just like children need the repetition of receiving information. Using different avenues of communication and doing it at different times seems to be helpful too.
Some of this communication seems mundane but it’s still important. Back to school information packets will soon be assembled and packaged for mailing, but I’ve also learned not to send it too soon in the summer or it gets lost in the shuffle. So, I send a little information at a time almost like a teaser. In the next week or so, our school calendar will be finalized and shared with parents in three ways:
- Posted on our website
- Via email
- File upload on Memberhub for future reference.
People of All Ages Love Hand-written Notes
A fun thing to have teachers do is to have them write a note to their new students. Too often we opt for the quick, easy, inexpensive option of email (which is great most of the time), but then lose a bit of the human touch. Kids of all ages LOVE to receive mail, so this seemingly simple act of reaching out to introduce yourself really goes a long way! If your school conducts home visits, that personal touch would likely take place of an introduction by mail. While these home visits may initially be out of your teachers’ comfort zone, they can be one of the most effective ways to promote a strong relationship between home and school. What a great way to start the year off!
One of the last things I plan to do this summer is send a postcard to our rising kindergarteners wishing them well in the coming year. Remember kids LOVE mail, and this is an easy way to remind students that they’re still a part of your school family even when they’re gone. Years after the fact I have heard from parents how much this small token meant to them and their child.
Share Summer Activity Ideas
Another way I like to stay in touch with parents is to share ideas for fun summer activities. My family is creating a bucket list of family friendly ideas to keep busy this summer. If you’re on Pinterest, you may have seen some examples; otherwise you can Google summer bucket list ideas for kids for some guidance. I also share my own summer experiences with my families so they aren’t alone. I might share something like, “It’s not even noon on our first day of summer break and we’ve had a meltdown!” followed with ways to handle the situation. Unfortunately, the previous example is a true example! I am quickly reminded (as I am every summer) how important some sort of routine and schedule still is to kids of all ages (mine are 8 &11). As we work on our bucket list, we will also work on daily and weekly schedules to include outdoor activities, exercise, reading, thinking, and resting.
Since school really is out for summer for me (for now), I’m going to sign off to enjoy time with my kids by the pool. I’d love to hear from you to see how you plan to spend your time “off” this summer! Leave a comment below!!!
About the Author
This is a guest blog post from Beth Dickinson. Beth spent five years teaching primary grades in public school before having children. She has spent eight years as a preschool director including the last six years as the Director at Hayes Barton Baptist Preschool in Raleigh, NC.