Monthly Archives: August 2011

For Teachers: Different Ways to Communicate With Parents – 25 Suggestions

For Teachers: Different Ways to Communicate With Parents –
25 Suggestions

If you were a fly on my classroom wall you would see me using a variety of methods/means to communicate with parents on a regular basis … even before Day #1!

I believe strongly in establishing strong ties/bonds between home and school … after all, we are all here for the child.

Together we can make a great team!

I hope that you find this list to be of some use …


27 Suggestions

  1. Class Blogs/Websites – to be updated regularly
  2. Class Parents – volunteers who communicate regularly with all parents on your behalf
  3. Class Celebrations – Thanksgiving Pot Luck, Halloween, Valentine’s Day, Winter Festival, Carnival, Remembrance Day, Earth Day, Mother’s Day Tea, Year End Party, etc.
  4. Curriculum Share –  After school events during which students lead parents through various curriculum related centres
  5. Email personal notes/updates- anytime / anywhere
  6. Email Newsletters
  7. Information “Easel” outside the classroom – posted information
  8. Face-to-Face Meetings
  9. Fundraisers – student driven & parent/teacher supported
  10. Home Journals – Students write a weekly letter home to parents describing their week & parents respond (see:
  11. Homework agendas – a very effective means of communication between home and school
  12. Interviews – parent-teacher interviews
  13. Learning Logs to be shared with parents by students on a regular basis (see:
  14. Newsletters / notices – save a tree: keep these to a minimum
  15. Open Door Policy – create a welcoming environment
  16. Parent Bulletin Board – in the hall – post a monthly calendar, weekly timetable, special notices, examples of student work, etc.
  17. Parent Night – early in September in order to introduce yourself & your program
  18. Parent Volunteers for activities, special days/activities, field trips, etc.
  19. Personal Notes/Letters home
  20. Post signs & notices on your front door
  21. Report Cards
  22. Stage a Poetry Slam
  23. Start the year off – prior to Day #1 – with a phone call & a postcard/letter home
  24. Telephone – makes calls regularly – report on strengths as well as needs; both good news and issues that need to be addressed
  25. Test Binder – include tests, quizzes, reports, etc. to be reviewed and signed by parents (includes student, parent & teacher reflections)

30 Ways to Encourage Student Writers — Alphabetically Speaking

30 Ways to Encourage Student Writers — Alphabetically Speaking

If you were a fly on my classroom wall you would see and hear me offering the following suggestions to teachers & parents (when asked) in an effort to encourage (reluctant) writers both in the classroom & at home … alphabetically speaking that is.


30 Ways:

1.   Authenticity – make it real & relevant

2.   Be an artist: draw stories and ideas first

3.   Brainstorming & pre-writing ideas – take the time; enjoy & play!  

4.   Break activities down into bite sized, manageable pieces

5.   Clear instructions – help to guide them

6.   Create cool, comfortable writing nooks/spaces

7.   Dear Diary – a personal journal; a personal space just for them

8.   Editing checklists – have them on hand

9.   Encourage creativity – whatever this means to each individual child

10.   Fan letters – Who are they “crushing on”? or in awe of? a singer? an athlete? an actor? Write a letter!

11.   Fun Materials – colourful pens & pencils, fancy/cool paper, notebooks, diaries, etc.

12.  Give topic suggestions & ideas

13. Hot Penning –

14. Keep a writer’s journal/notebook – play with it

15. Letter Writing – write to a friend, a grandparent, a pen pal, etc.

16.  Make lists – grocery shopping lists, travel lists, guest lists, wish lists, birthday lists, gift lists, etc.

17.  Model, Model, Model – let them see you writing

18. Music – music & lyrics can inspire pieces of writing

19. Notes – pass notes back and forth

20.  Personal experiences and meaningful memories are good starting points

21. Pictures/Photos can inspire a piece

22. Plan, plan, plan – make sure that you/they have a plan

23. Postcards – short and sweet and fun

24. Provide opportunities to publish & share pieces

25.  Purposeful writing – helps to encourage and guide

26.  Role-playing prior to writing

27.  Share & Suggest – share & suggest ideas – help to get them going

28.   Share & Pen – do some of them writing for/with them

29. Use technology

30.  Visualization techniques

For Kids: How to Have a Great School Year! Two Categories & Twenty-five Steps

How to Have a Great School Year! Two Categories & Twenty-five Steps – Support & Empower Your Child

I recently had a conversation with a girlfriend of mine. She was wondering what she could do as a parent to help her child have both a positive and productive school year.

Over a glass of wine and a plate of sushi we came up with the following list of ideas. We divided the list into “home” and “school”, and then I included some web sites that provide additional, practical information.

& Speaking of “practical”: We tried to be as practical and as concrete as possible. We tried to keep our ideas clear and simple. We agreed that it was really important to post and share the list with her daughter well before the beginning of the school year, and to review & refer to it often.


For Kids: How to Have a Great School Year! Two Categories & Twenty-five Steps

(A) At Home

1. Develop good time management skills – learn to prioritize (;

2. Self-discipline – make good decisions – decide what needs to be done & do it;

3. Create your own calendar of events to post at home (;

4. Keep a homework agenda – record all assignments and upcoming events neatly, accurately, carefully. Carry it with you at all times;

5. Find & create you perfect study/homework space;

6. Do your homework & do it well (;

7. Find a homework buddy (e.g. classmates to call if you have missed or don’t understand the work);

8. Develop your study skills (;

9. Practice excellent organizational skills (;

10. Keep a positive attitude and an open mind;

11. Believe in yourself & take pride in your work;

12. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it – but really try first!

13. Discover: What kind of a learner are you? (

14. Stay healthy – eat well, exercise, maintain fun/healthy friendships, have some down time and get a good night sleep;

At School

1. Always arrive a few minutes early to class so as to be ready to start the day/class on a positive note;

2. Get to know your teachers – & help them get to know you;

3. Pay attention at all times and be prepared in class;

4. Approach each lesson/class with optimism and an open mind;

5. Be proactive, be organized;

6. Practice active listening skills  ( & critical thinking skills (

7. Participate in class discussions and ask questions;

8. Recognize when you may need some extra help & ask for it;

9. Get involved in the whole-school experience: join a sports team(s), club(s), school play, etc.;

10. Take pride in your work and in your accomplishments;

11. Respect: respect yourself, your teachers, your peers, and your learning environment.

How to Build Confidence in Your Child

How to Build Confidence in Your Child

If you were a fly on my classroom wall you would often hear this question being asked by parents during interviews:

“How can I build my child’s confidence?”

What a great question. I mean who doesn’t want a happy, healthy, confident child?!???!?! …. & it seems to me that confidence is 3/4 of any “activity” (e.g. developing social skills, learning a new sport or skill, school success, etc.).

Anyway, I was thinking about all of the things that I have told parents over the years… and guess what? It’s all just common sense … it’s nothing that those very same parents could and would not have told me themselves had the tables been turned … which, when you think about it, makes good sense.



  • Love them.
  • Praise them.
  • Encourage independence.
  • Encourage a strong, “contained” sense of self-worth & confidence.
  • Get to know them: Their friends, games, music, TV shows … who they are, what they do, what they love …
  • Set the stage for a great life … Be firm, be realistic & then : Laugh. Smile. Play.


  • Provide structure. Set boundaries.
  • Be consistent.
  • Keep promises.
  • Discuss your values, set your rules – state/explain your expectations – review them often.
  • Provide rewards & consequences when necessary.
  • Be yourself.
  • Be a role model for your child.


  • Teach independence.
  • Teach responsibility.
  • Teach “stick with-ed-ness” e.g. When first you don’t succeed that’s OK, just try, try again.”
  • Teach self-control.
  • Teach right from wrong.
  • Teach respect (personal & for others).
  • Teach problem-solving skills and decision-making skills.
  • Teach and model good conversations skills and active listening skills.
  • Teach them  that there are things in life that they have control over and can change, and there are those things that they simply must accept.


… opportunities to see new things, meet new people, try new foods, etc.
… a safe, secure environment (emotionally, physically … you know the drill 😉
… opportunities to take risks.
… opportunities to learn new skills.
… opportunities to practice new skills.
… push a little when appropriate … be never too much.
… opportunities for success.
… opportunities to learn from mistakes … and to be OK with that.
… choices for your child – but never too many. Always remember that you are “the boss”.


  • Be warm. Be firm. Be silly.
  • Be serious. Be honest. Be realistic.
  • Be empathetic. Be patient.
  • Be an explorer.
  • Live, laugh, love, learn ….
  • Be yourself!
  • They are great, and so are you!