As we set off on a new year we’d like to offer some tips for the improving the communication lines between home and school.
The following ideas came from both parents of children who receive special education services as well as special education teachers and support staff. We hope you find them helpful!
1. You can use the student’s IEP or behavior plan to guide you.
As you can see below, my son Ryan’s form is based on his IEP goals plus our personal goals for him and gives me a great snapshot of his day. The front side has a chart with his daily schedule and as he goes to each class the aide, therapist or teacher he visits just fills in a face for his 3 targeted behavior goals to show how he did that day. On the right side they can leave a quick note to tell me what they did in class that day, or if there were any issues that meant he didn’t get a happy face they can explain.
2. Make it simple for teachers or support staff to complete.
The staff working with our kids have limited time to write detailed accounts of what has happened during a day for each child. Making the communication sheet simple and fast to complete can be very helpful. Boxes than can be checked, happy faces that can be filled in, or letters that can be circled are great options.
If you look on the back of my son’s communication form (below), we have two charts for his toileting and eating which is great for our own personal knowledge. While it’s just a quick step for the aid or nurse to circle letters on his bathroom log, it’s a HUGE help to us to see how often he went throughout the day. Circling the letters only takes a couple seconds each time he uses the bathroom.
3. Consider using a notebook.
Especially as students get older and no longer bring home a folder from school each day like they do in elementary, you might want to consider using a more durable notebook to keep track of their day. Some students will use a calendar style planner that has daily or weekly places to make notes. Other families prefer a spiral notebook where messages can be exchanged. Keeping this in a student’s backpack where both parents and teachers will know where to find it and add comments can be a great way to communicate.
4. Technology is a great option.
Many classrooms have started using apps and website to help facilitate school to home communication. If your child’s teacher hasn’t discovered this yet, this is a great time to suggest it! You can check out https://www.classdojo.com/ for an option that is successfully used in many classrooms and see if it might be a good fit for your family.
No matter how you and your child’s education partners decide to do it, making communication easy between school and home is beneficial for everyone involved, especially the students. This can help eliminate frustration and confusion and keep everyone on the same page, which leads to greater student success! If you have any other tips or tricks you’ve used to keep the lines of communication open, please share!