A classroom newsletter may not be something you have time to create each week or month, but a newsletter can be an effective communication tool that parents will look forward to. The newsletter can be housed on your classroom or school’s website, sent as a PDF to parents’ email addresses, or distributed to your students directly to share with their parents.
Many parents and other adult family members will look forward to the classroom newsletter especially when it is published consistently and contains pertinent and interesting information. The newsletter can be a single page or several pages depending on the information you would like to share. However, if it is too lengthy, many parents may not find the time to read it, so make sure to only include relevant information!
Newsletters contain a wide variety of special features written by you but you should also seek your students’ input as well, especially if you teach older students. For younger students, you could spend about 10 or 15 minutes each week asking them what they think is important to share with parents. By allowing your students’ involvement, the newsletter becomes something they can be proud of and they will be more likely to encourage their parents and family members to read it.
Here are some features you can include in your classroom newsletter:
- FAQs: Use FAQs to highlight important events taking place in your classroom or for other school functions. Parents often will ask many questions related to these events, so it is best to try and predict the questions they will ask and include them in this section of your newsletter along with responses.
- Current Events: This feature may include some of the upcoming events like school pictures, an assembly, a bake sale, sporting event, and more, but it can also be used to highlight major tests or assignments. In addition, if a real-world event is related to a lesson you have taught or will teach, include it in this section as well.
- Rules: At the beginning of the year and perhaps before the start of each quarter, a section related to the classroom rules can be included. You may wish to remind parents to discuss the rules with their child, and if there is a particular rule that many children are having difficulty in following, tell parents about it. In addition, you could even highlight a different rule each time a newsletter is published.
- Calendar: Depending on the frequency of the newsletter, you could include a monthly or weekly calendar that parents could cut out and place in a prominent place in their home. The calendar may show students’ birthdays, important events, holidays, assignments due, and much more.
- Student Mentions: Use the newsletter to showcase one or more student achievements each time it is published. It could be a list of all students who had perfect attendance for the week, those who aced a recent test, or a student of the month/week featuring responses to a list of questions like their favorite food, sport, and more. The feature will inspire other students in the class to excel and increases the confidence of the students mentioned in the newsletter.
- Quotes/Facts: The newsletter may include an inspiring quote for students with some discussion included with the feature. In addition, you may include an interesting fact of the week or month. This could be something that students might want to learn about with their parents, and you can include links for further information and investigation.
- Subject Specific: A newsletter can highlight a different subject each time it is published too. For example, there could be additional stories related to science only, and the quotes, facts, and student mentions could all focus on the science topics being taught in the classroom. It could include what was or will be taught, special projects or experiments the students conducted, or other interesting features related to the subject.
- Feedback Area: Set aside a section of your newsletter where parents, students, and other readers could provide feedback related to the newsletter. They may use this section to give suggestions, share their opinions, make comments, or simply to send a note to you related to their son or daughter. It can be another tool for effective parent/teacher communication.
There are many other features you can include in your classroom newsletter. Once you set up the template for it, the newsletter will not take much time to complete each week or month, or perhaps bi-monthly. In addition, it can be further personalized for each student, especially if you are distributing them to your students in the classroom. Do what feels right for your classroom and remember to think of it as a communication tool for parents. You are taking time out of your busy schedule to create it in order to avoid unnecessary questions and interruptions by parents and to make sure they have the most up-to-date information possible.
Try including a blank area in the newsletter where you can write a positive note about each child. Tell the parent something that will make them smile. Do not use the newsletter as a mini-report card or use to point out unacceptable behaviors. The newsletter should be something a student is happy to see and in turn, will be encouraged to share with a parent.
Finally, a newsletter is not only useful for the self-contained classroom teacher. It can be created and published by an art, science, P.E., music, or another subject-area teacher in the school. The newsletter may often be thought of as a thing from the past before technology, but it is another effective communication tool that can be used by teachers at any grade level. Try some of our tips for creating an effective newsletter and see what a difference it makes!