By Teachers, For Teachers
Everyone knows that maintaining effective communication between parents and teachers is the key to student success. So, as teachers we try and find ways to best communicate with our students parents. In this technological age it’s easy to email, set up a website, or text information to parents.
But, unfortunately not all parents have the technology to get the information this way. This is where the good old weekly newsletter comes in. You are almost guaranteed that parents will receive the information if it is in the student’s take-home folder. What you need to be aware of is that this effective communication needs to be eye-catching. It has to be flashy enough where parents will not throw it into a pile of old papers and never read it.
Here are a few tips on how to design your classroom newsletter so parents will actually read it.
Oftentimes teachers tend to make their newsletters too wordy. They have so much that they want to say that they just ramble on, and it ends up looking more like a letter than a newsletter. Try to avoid long, wide paragraphs. If it’s important to note that students will need a sports jersey for jersey day then don’t put that in the middle of the newsletter. If you want your message to stand out, then the best way to do that is by breaking up your information into short paragraphs and bullet points. Try to keep it to about ten words per line and format it so it is in columns.
Besides making your newsletter look like a letter to a friend, teachers tend to try and use all of the white space on the paper. This is something you will want to avoid. Space is your friend because it’s easy on the reader’s eye, and it helps your main points to stand out. Try to say what you need to say in as few words as you can. Play around with the font and try a smaller one instead of a larger one. Increase your page margins, or try putting separate information into blocks.
Weekly newsletters are meant to give parents current information. Try not to keep old information on the newsletter, like the class moto or schools mission statement. Parents are looking for content that changes each week like spelling and vocabulary words, upcoming projects or field trips, or potential days off. Draw parents’ attention by creating a focal point in each newsletter that highlights the most important information.
Break up that black and white boring block of text with a few graphics. Do not overload with adorable clip art, but it is necessary to input a few graphics or pictures. If you took pictures of students working on a project, scan them onto the newsletter and forgo the clip art. If you don’t have any classroom pictures to share, then add one or two clip arts images to accompany your information. Make sure to keep the graphics relevant. For example, if you are talking about a book report, add a clip art of a book. Less is more when it comes to graphics. You don’t want to overload the reader’s eye.
A fun idea is to incorporate a weekly or monthly theme into your newsletter. If you’re doing a unit on bees, then use name the newsletter “The Buzz” or “Busy Bees.” Try and incorporate different activities that is related to your theme that students can do with their siblings or parents.
This is where you can write a brief statement about what you have worked on during the week (or month). This helps those parents whose children always say “I don’t know what I did at school today” or “I can’t remember.” Include some main things you have worked on like readers workshop or a science experiment that you have conducted.
Now that the parents have read the letter, what do you want them to do with the information? Consider including a section at the bottom that tells parents what they can do next. For example, if you are learning about sequencing, then add a blurb about how parents can help students think about what routine that they do every day.
Once you get your format down, then creating your classroom newsletter each week or month will be quite easy. All you will have to do is update the content in place of the old content and you are done. Remember, an effective newsletter will ensure that parents are informed and therefore will strengthen your bond with them as well.
What do you include in your classroom newsletter? Do you have any tips or ideas that you would like to share? Feel free to leave your ideas in the comment section below, we would love to hear your thoughts.
Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds a master's of science in education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is also the elementary education expert for About.com, as well as a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com and TeachHUB Magazine. You can follow her at Twitter @Empoweringk6ed, on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators, or visit her website at Empoweringk6educators.