Do you ever hear from parents that they have no idea what their children are learning at school? They ask their child what they did today, and the reply is, “I can’t remember,” or “Nothing.” If you have school-aged children yourself, you know all about this.
This is the reason that I began using Home Journals with my students. Each Friday, students write a paragraph or two to their parents about their week at school. I always let them draw a picture to accompany their writing as well. THEN (and this is my favorite part), parents read the journals at home and write back to their child. Students absolutely love this and feel SO important! Not only is communication between home and school enhanced, but students are practicing writing to a real audience at the same time! Win-win!
Below I have provided some key points to remember when implementing Home Journals in your classroom:
1. Provide each student with a notebook that they will use throughout the year. I stay away from the coil-bound notebooks, as the pages tend to get ripped out easier.
2. Before you have students write about their week, brainstorm a list of what happened in class that week. As they think of ideas, write a point-form list on the whiteboard (here’s a great opportunity to teach about list writing!). If you skip the brainstorming session, you can expect many students to say that they have no ideas, or don’t know what they did that week. Please don’t skip this step!
3. DO NOT correct spelling or grammatical mistakes in students’ Home Journals, and ask that parents do the same. The goal here is just to write to an audience who cares what they are writing about. Encourage students to be descriptive and use their own voice in their writing, but please do not point out their errors.
4. Provide time on Monday for students to read the note from their parent, just in case they didn’t get a chance at home.
5. Tell parents about the goals of the Home Journal, and reinforce how important it is to write back to their child. Throughout the year, tell parents how much it means to the students when they read their responses.
**Since this blog post was first published, I’ve had many people ask what to do when a student’s parents do not write back. This can be upsetting for the child if he/she never gets written back to. If you have this situation occurring in your classroom, I recommend pairing that student with an adult who works in the school. Would the custodian write back and forth to a child? Or perhaps a librarian? There are likely many people in your school who would love the chance to be involved and make a student feel special.**
Communication with parents is so important. Here’s another post with some other thoughts and ideas.
This post is just one of over 80 in this month’s Bright Ideas Link-Up! Just use the link-up below to choose topics and grade levels that interest you! Thanks for visiting!