During this sequester, the parents of the 55.1 million K-12 students in the United States have assumed a role we readily admit we were not prepared for: supervising our kid’s learning. Pre-pandemic, we looked at their homework, scanned the online school platform for updates, and attended twice yearly parent/teacher conferences. These may have been the only insights into how our kids were navigating learning.
Now having been in the trenches, our new perspective into our children as learners is an open door to a partnership with teachers moving forward—because we’re in this together.
Parents should be proud of the work their kids have been doing during stay-at-home and excited to tell teachers about what’s been happening. As the 2019-2020 school year comes to a close, flip the parent/teacher conference and share back your kid’s home school experience using this Parent-to-Teacher Letter. Prepared Parents developed this letter to communicate this progress. It’s a way to talk about the skills and habits kids developed and their responses to challenges.
It’s been eye-opening for Prepared parent, Jenna, who told us she had never before paid as close attention to her sixth grader’s academic life. “I’ve always wanted to convey to Emily that her education is her responsibility,” says Jenna. “I’ve always let her know I’m here to help if she needs it, but I now realize there are some issues in how she learns I had not been aware of before.”
Having this information could be a great benefit to Emily’s teacher when she returns to school.
How to use the Parent-to-Teacher Letter
Take a moment to reflect and then pat yourself on the back. This has been hard. but think about what you’ve accomplished. Reflection that involves contemplating and analyzing events and actions gives the brain the opportunity to untangle and sort out observations and experiences that can ultimately lead to future growth and development.
Record what your kid learned during Stay-at-Home as a living history. Don’t wait until right before the new school year. It’s important to document this experience while it’s fresh in your mind.The memories won’t be as accurate in a month or two. Use your responses to these questions to introduce the context of their experience this spring in an introductory paragraph to the letter.
- What did my kid learn about themselves?
- What new interests did they explore while at home?
- What did they learn about themselves or the family?
Discuss the skills and habits you observed. The 16 Habits of Success are the measurable outcomes that matter most if we want our kids to be prepared for a fulfilled life.
- Which habits did your kid develop?
- Which do you hope they continue to develop?
Talk about the passions and interests they discovered. If your kid created projects as they explored their curiosity, discuss those in the Parent-to-Teacher letter. Attach photos if you have them. Or, better yet, send any projects to school when the classroom reopens.
What about their small wins, the small steps forward that added up to great progress in learning can you tell their teacher? Be sure to document those.
Let the teacher know about the things that keep you up at night. Partnering involves vulnerability and openness. Be honest.These insights will benefit your kid as you, your kid and their teachers work together to address concerns.
Share the areas where you’ve realized your child needs more help. One of the biggest challenges of being a parent is pinpointing when your child needs help. Kids, especially younger kids, develop differently. The key is to figure out when a worry prompts intervention. Ask yourself these questions:
- Am I overreacting? Document your own feelings. Then connect them to the actual behavior to confirm that they are proportionate.
- Does this worry have more to do with myself and my own aspirations, rather than actual shortfalls in my child’s learning, character or behavior?
The Parent-to-Teacher Letter is not only a valuable record of this spring’s accomplishments; it is also a document to share with next year’s teacher to introduce them to your kid. With your new understanding of all a teacher does, it not only informs, but also conveys your respect, appreciation, and gratitude for the work they do every day. Review and update your letter periodically as you see your kid grow and develop as a learner. It could become a regular practice to give updated letters to each of your kid’s teachers.