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Teaching Strategies | May 21, 2024

6 Ways to Welcome and Engage Your Next Class of Parents

The new school year is about to start, and along with a new class of students comes a new set of parents! Reap the benefits of strong family involvement from the first day. Here are six ideas for welcoming and engaging parents to get the school year off to a great start.

The Benefits of Family Engagement

The beginning of a new school year is marked with so much excitement. Buying new school supplies is always fun, but there is also a classroom full of new smiling faces waiting for their teacher‚ as well as their families who have so much to share with classroom communities. Parents are a vital organ in the classroom system, so get to know them and get them involved from the get-go!

Suggestions to Welcome and Engage Families

Early efforts to build family involvement will ensure that parents understand classroom expectations and processes early on and can be partners in their children’s learning. The start of the school year is an opportunity for teachers to open lines of communication as they meet families and students for the first time. The following six suggestions build beneficial family involvement from the start of school.


Welcome Letters

Set the tone for a great new school year with personalized welcome letters for families. In the letter, you should introduce yourself, exhibit excitement about the school year, and set the stage for the start of school.

You can mail a letter to each family prior to the start of school. Parents will know you are passionate about your classroom and are already thinking about the school year. Most schools have an event at which parents can preview curriculum and meet the teacher. This Back-to-School night is a great opportunity to share a welcome letter. You could also share the letter on the first day of school.

Our school has a meet-and-greet a couple of days before the new year starts, but Back-to-School Night is my opportunity to really get to know the new families that will spend the year with me.

Whether you mail the letter in advance or share it early in the school year, here are some tips for writing an informative parent letter that sets an engaging tone for a new year but also establishes clear expectations.

Be creative

Try something new‚ and give your letter a theme or new form. For example, craft a parent letter in the form of an informational flyer. Try a theme. For example, playing off a food theme, label "Rules and Expectations" as the "Recipe" for success needed for the year. The theme helps to keep things fun, but also clearly describes what will be expected throughout the year.

Be concise

A new year can be mentally challenging for teachers, students, and parents. So, sometimes just getting straight to the point works perfectly fine! Listing the essentials makes it easier for parents to tackle and remember what will be required in a new year and with a new teacher.

Keep it light

Starting the year fearful of what's ahead just creates anxiety for everyone involved, so be clear, but keep it light. New systems, like standards-based grading and homework can be communicated effectively and simply at the start of the year to avoid overwhelming families. For example, building off the food theme, a new grading system could be compared to a nutrition label. Yes, there may be homework, and yes, there may be grades, but it doesn't have to be scary.

Add a personal touch 

Incorporate something special to you. Just as teachers enjoy getting to know their students, students want to know their teacher, so add little references here and there to keep it meaningful and personal. Each new year is filled with so much fun and excitement, so set the tone for amazing right away.

Family Survey

Ask parents to complete a survey about their children/families. Parents know their children best. Sending a survey home not only provides you insights into their children, but also demonstrates that you care enough to ask. Be sure to include a place for them to indicate contact information, such as their names and best ways and best times for you to reach them. This is also an excellent place to find out if parents are willing to volunteer in the classroom or prepare materials at home, two huge benefits of family involvement.

Contact Information

Provide your preferred contact information to families at the start of the year. Create a reminder with your contact information on it. Design a bookmark, magnet, or business card with your name, school address, phone number and extension, and email address. This simple gesture shows parents they are welcome to contact you with any questions or concerns.

Personal Connections

Make personal contact with each family within the first few weeks of school. Connect with parents by phone or in person after a few weeks of school. Ask if they have any questions and inquire about anything they think you should know about their children or family situations. It takes a little bit of time, but parents really appreciate the effort and the insight it provides is well worth your time.

If your school has a Back-to-School Night, go the extra mile and personally invite parents to join this important event. Make a phone call, talk to parents before or after school if they are on campus, or send a personal note. E-mail invitations are quick and easy!

Office Hours

Make yourself available immediately before and after school, especially during the first few weeks of school. Standing at your door to greet/dismiss your students helps you connect students with their families as well as showing your availability and interest in knowing the families. It is helpful to parents and students to know you are accessible.

Simple Resources

Make it a point to share simple resources that families can use at home to support the content and skills children are learning in the classroom. Parents are more apt to support learning at home when they are well-informed and equipped with strategies. Avoid overwhelming parents at the start of school with too many resources; instead offer some basic initial resources and add on throughout the year. Providing them with simple resources is a step toward connection and support.

Achieve the goal of family involvement with early efforts to welcome and engage parents at the start of the school year. These simple suggestions, easily personalized, will set the tone and expectations for your incoming students’ families, open lines of communication, and let parents know how best to reach out. Start the year off strong with these family involvement strategies.

This article is the combined work of teachers Jodene Smith and Melissa Hypolite.




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Jodene Smith

Jodene Smith has been teaching for more than 20 years in Orange County, California, particularly in the primary grades. She and her husband, Dave, have two school-aged children. The couple are co-authors of the book History of Comics Books, published by Teacher Created Materials.

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