back to school,  families,  family,  family communication

Tips for welcoming new families

Whether you work for a year-round program or a program that follows a traditional school calendar there is a good chance that you will be welcoming some families that are new to your program in the fall. I am a huge believer in the importance of building relationships with parents, and those relationships start with first impressions.  There are a few simple things that you can do to welcome families and make a positive impression that will lead to stronger relationships.

  • Share information about yourself.  It is common practice to share info about your program and classroom practices, but parents really want to know who you are. Consider sending home an “All About Me” info sheet (like this freebie) – and send a blank one that parents can help their child complete and return.  You could also create a bulletin board or scrapbook page about yourself to display.  This information will help parents see you as a person with hobbies, interests, and a family, in addition to your job as a teacher.  Knowing these things about you can help parents connect with you as a person.
  • Take an interest in them.  Do you send home family surveys? If you do, take the time to read them.  Try to remember at least one thing about each family that you want to talk to them or ask them about.  It can be something as simple as “What kind of dog is Buddy?” or “My kids play soccer too, what team are you on?” These conversations will show that you actually took the time to read the information they’ve shared and that you want to know more.  It will help them understand that the paperwork you send home is valuable. 
  • Be available.  Share your contact information and be available to parents when they attempt to use it. If you can only talk to them on the phone at certain times of the day, let them know this.  If you tell them that email is the best way to reach you, then make sure to respond to their emails in a timely fashion.  The way that you communicate with families at the beginning of the year will set the tone for the rest of the year.
  • Involve them.  Share various opportunities for families to participate in classroom activities – everything from donating materials or expertise to chaperoning field trips and organizing class parties.  Make it clear that there are ways for all families to be involved and that you really want them to participate. 
For more family engagement ideas, check out these posts!

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