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Tool: Handbooks, newsletters, calendars, CDs

For a beginning teacher, it may seem like it is too much to expect to develop a series of written materials for parents. On the other hand, without such materials, you run the risk of either not communicating with parents, or mis-communicating with them.  Consider the advantages of written materials. They...

  • Provide clear and helpful information
  • Enable you to reach many families at once
  • Help you "tell the same story" to everyone
  • Serve as reminders to busy families
  • Can be translated into other languages for parents whose first language is not English

Classroom handbooks allow you to pull information together about your classroom rules and routines as well as how families can become involved in their child’s education. You should ask colleagues how they organize theirs, or suggest to your grade level (elementary/middle school) colleagues or subject matter colleagues (high school) that you collaborate to make a common handbook. Below is a sample table of contents that can help you think about the types of information you might include in your own:

Making Connections with Classroom 201: Our Handbook


Table of Contents


Our Classroom Rules and Routines


Weekly Folder System




Telephone and E-Mail


Parent Observations


Parent Volunteers


Home Visits


Parenting Tips


Interesting Websites

Weekly or monthly newsletters help parents stay connected with topics you are teaching, classroom or school events and ways they can support their children’s learning. Some teachers follow a consistent format by having regular “sections” in their newsletters, while others adjust the format to that week’s news. Here is a sample newsletter template that you can adapt to your situation:

Making Connections with Classroom 201

What’s new for the week of _________?

What is happening in our classroom?











What is happening at the school?

Interactive Homework









This Week’s Anecdote

Student of the Week










Family News

Calendars can help families coordinate classroom or school events (and/or assignment due dates) with their home and work calendars. These can be sent home monthly, or by semester. Below is a template for a monthly calendar that you can adapt to your own situation:

Making Connections with Classroom 201

What’s happening during the month of ________________?














Computer CDs are another way to deliver information to families:

  • They save on paper, and can include digital photos of classroom events, samples of class projects, forms for parents to use and so on.  
  • Students can become involved in making them and encourage parents to view them. 
  • As with any technology, it is important to be aware of whether families in your class have access to a computer, and whether or not you may actually close off communication if parents do not have access.
  • Parents could be given a choice as to whether they prefer receiving CDs or hard copies of materials.

PDF version for printing .... MSWord version for revising .... RTF version for revising