Every month I (try to) invite families to come into our classroom to do something with us. In September I usually invite them to join us first thing in the morning for our morning meeting. It lets them see how their child starts their school day and be a part of it. We’ve had families join us to create art, play math games, share our writing, and more. I try to schedule these invitations for different times throughout the day because I know the majority of the adults in our families work. Their work schedules are not all the same so offering a variety of options throughout the year gives everyone (hopefully) some opportunity to join us.
Last night our school book fair opened. It seemed like the right time for an evening event so I invited families to come and read with their children. In the invitation I included information about the evening book fair hours so that they could do that as well, if they wished. I shared my plans with others on my hallway and two colleagues decided to jump in with me on this.
In my classroom just over half my students came with some of their family. Some had visited the book fair and couldn’t wait to dive into their new books. Others grabbed their book boxes, ready to share what they’ve been reading with their family.
The other two teachers and I had ordered pizzas and gotten juice for the evening. (It’s tough to invite families to come to school in the evening and not impact dinner time so I try, if I can, to just take away that stress.) Pizzas were eaten, juice was drunk, and many, many books were read.
We no longer have a Back to School Night (we do all of that stuff at our Open House before school starts) so I took this opportunity to give families a magnet for their fridge with the school phone number, my email address, and our class website where we post pictures regularly. I also gave every family three to six photos of their child at school in the first couple of months.
The chance to share our classroom, our work, and our community with families is important to me. They are a huge part of the growth my students will make this year and I want them to know I value them and that we are a team (me, the family, and the student). Events like this give me the opportunity to talk with families without the formal structure of parent-teacher conferences. It helps build relationships that will benefit all of us all year.