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Dr. Tisha Shipley has been in education for 17 years. She has taught Pre-K, Kindergarten, Gifted and Talented 3rd-6th Grades, Dr. Shipley was an elementary principal, a cheer coach, and was on...
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20 Fun Ideas to Partner With Families

We know that today is different than last year at this time.  I am going to share with you ideas to partner with families right now during the pandemic but also, when things get back to “normal”, as we know they will, ideas for cultivating that relationship.

Right now, families just need support. Teachers need support also.  We all need to work together and be kind, realize we are each doing everything we can to ensure the safety, engagement and success of each of our students. This will always start with how you approach different situations and what you do during this time.

Much of our time is spent on the computer right now.  This is ok, it is the new norm for now and we must embrace this! Smile each day and know that your students are still showing up and that they need you!

There are so many different ways that teachers can partner with parents.  A strong reciprocal relationship is so important to a child’s success in the classroom.  I decided when I first started teaching parents were going to be my allies.  I was going to make sure that I included them in decisions, ideas and things I did in my classroom.  Parents have been and will continue to be the most important people in each student’s life.  No matter what happens at home we must treat families with respect, dignity and let them know that we are on the same page.  We both want what is best for the child and their education and developmental well-being.   When a family trusts you and what you do in your classroom, they will support you in the decisions you make.

20 fun ideas to partner with families:

Back to School Night: Welcome families, get to know them, allow them to get to know the classroom with their child. (Family Picnic night, carnival night, explore the classroom night, scavenger hunt night)  You can still do this online it may just look a bit different.

1 Family Forums (these can still be held each month just like you would in person, and still record them and house them on your website or YouTube).

2. Provide Families with Important Information:

3. Get to know you:  This is a parent questionnaire example to let families know you care about them and you want to get to know them. (Interest Inventory)

4. Muffins with Mom: You can do this as many times a year as you want. And this can still be done during the day online.  Make it fun.

5. Donuts with Dad: You can do this as many times a year as you want. Again, this can be done online as needed or wanted.

6. Monday Moms: Monday Moms volunteer to help with activities or projects you have going on in the classroom.  You can still have the family volunteers, maybe you have them working on something that you could have a breakout room for.

7. Friday Fathers: Friday Fathers volunteer to help with activities or projects you have going on in the classroom.

8. Tea Parties with Grandparents: You can do this as many times a year as you want. 

9. Grandparent Day: Grandparents can volunteer to help in the classroom with whatever you may need.  Grandparents would LOVE to be able to be a part of your classroom through Zoom.  Show them how their families are working right now.

10. Important Person Day: Allow each child to choose one person that is really important to them whether it be an aunt, uncle, mother, father, sister, brother etc.  This person comes to the classroom and brings his or her favorite children’s book and reads it to the class.  You can then allow them to be a part of the day if they would like to.

11. You tube for Families: A professional You Tube Channel allows you to read to children, help families understand concepts and explains things happening in your classroom.

12. Social Media Contact: This is something you can help your families with during a parent party and or on your You Tube channel. We have to start thinking outside the box as we work with families. Other social media ideas are located under resources at the end of this article.

13. Family Thanks: Have a “Family Thank you Day”.  Have snacks, finger foods, and a small gift that says thank you for volunteering and helping your child at home. Everyone likes to be noticed and told thank you and or congratulations.

14. Special Projects:  Fun Projects to work on at home that show families what the child is learning at school.

15. Family Project Bags (Curriculum Themed):  These bags can have curriculum materials and ideas that you have been teaching at school. Things to include: 1. Clear directions 2. Projects children can be successful on 3. All materials needed 4. Books families can read together 5. Healthy recipes for families to try together 6. Fun Family Friendly games or ideas (example: take a walk, play Jenga, while you are shopping make sure to look for something that starts with the letter L) Oline books are listed under resources at the end of this article.

16. Phone calls (positive calls are vital), newsletters, special notes home.

17. Throughout the year:  Projects that families will cherish

  •  Handprint Calendar
  •  Monthly Names: Have children write their name on the first day of school and every month until the last day of school.
  •  Child’s portfolio: This is something that you keep all year long.  Take pictures of each student, writing, coloring and art samples.  Anything that you can keep and show progress and growth for the year families love.
  •  Pillowcase:  The last week of school have each child bring a pillowcase.  On the pillowcase you will write.  “Now I lay me down to sleep, I count these hands instead of sheep, and think of all of the friends I’ve made in Mrs.______ Pre-K (or whatever grade you teach).  Each child dips their hand in paint and puts in on the pillowcase and write their names and date.

18. Family Leaders: Have families be leaders in your school.  Show them they are important.  Allow them to share ideas that will and can help the school environment.  What are ideas they have for the classroom, how can you partner together to make specific things happen. (Food drive, coat drive, school carnival, PTA etc)

19.  Think it out board: This board is located right outside the door of your classroom.  It lists things you are working on that day or week.  It give specific questions families can ask a student instead of just asking “what did you learn today”.

20. Attend and Be Present: Many times families will invite you different things: plays, games, parties, etc.  I tried to attend as many as I could. Many times there are several children on one team or in a play/music program.  I also made sure I was always present not only during the day but any time a family member wanted my attention.  You must make sure that they know you care and that you want to hear from them.

No matter which one of these ideas you choose to try, I challenge you to try at least one if not move of these ideas.  I have personally used each and every one of these ideas and they work.  To this day, I still keep in contact with families that I had the opportunity to meet and work with.  I treated each child as they were my own, and I let the families know that.  I wanted each family to trust me, respect me and join in with me in starting their child’s educational endeavor off right. Have fun getting to know the families in your classroom, and remember it is never to late to start building those relationships!

Many of these things can be done in person and online if needed.  We must respect the families and their time, but also be creative.  When you show that you care, you will have valued buy in from them.

Resources:

Online reading for your children

Social media website to try: