How can we possibly make time for parent communication when we have so. much. to. do? I have a few ideas that might help make it a little easier…
Parent communication can be a beast for anyone working in a school, but for SLPs it can be especially tricky because of our large caseloads. I share four time-saving tips in this blog post, as well as a link to a free parent communication log template that will help you get – and stay – organized. Get all of the details and the freebie inside!
But First… Why Communicate?
You have so much on your plate… Why take the time to communicate?
Having a good communication system can actually save you time (and help your students)!
- It cuts down on IEP meeting time (and makes meetings more productive).
- It empowers parents to participate in the team.
- It gives parents tools that they can use support their child’s progress.
- It improves student outcomes (Stoner et al., 2013; Kaiser & Roberts, 2013).
- And more!
The best part? I’ve got some time-saving tips!
1. Make a list of student contact information.
Save time by putting your students’ contact information in one list! (I don’t know about you, but it often takes 2-3 minutes just to be able to look up a phone number at my school.) Keep the list handy so it’s easy to make a quick phone call.
2. Keep a parent communication log.
Ain’t no one got time to log all the little things that we do, but–if I have a more substantive conversation with a parent–I make sure to log it. SLP Now has a section specifically for parent communication tracking! But if you’re not a member, scroll down to download the free parent communication log template.
For a low tech option, check out Queen Speech’s label idea. I used to make my own labels to log parent communication, and I kept them by my phone. This way I can easily jot down notes whenever I was talking to a parent. Every few weeks, I transferred the labels to the students’ individual communication logs.
3. Communicate early (before the IEP is due).
Keep track of your IEP due dates and start contacting parents early. I use SLP Now to keep track of my IEP/evaluation due dates. I also add reminders on my Google Calendar to help me remember when to start making calls.
4. Communicate regularly.
At the beginning of the school year, I was really good at making phone calls to touch base with parents (especially when a student did something awesome), but that quickly became unmanageable as my caseload grew. Instead, I looked for easier, more efficient ways to keep in touch. Here are some of my favorites:
• At the beginning of the school year, I send home a quick letter to all of my students. Natalie Snyders has a great template.
• I also did a review of different time-saving tools for parent communication and homework.
• I attend parent conferences!
You could also…
• Write quick notes on my students’ homework.
• Send home brag tags with students.
• Send home weekly/monthly newsletters.
Check out this video for a peek at some of these materials/ideas…
As I mentioned before, parent conferences are a great time to touch base with parents. I shared my favorite tips and tricks for these meetings here!
Now you tell me… What are your favorite tips/tricks when it comes to parent communication?
Jessica Watson says
LOVE LOVE LOVE THIS IDEA!!! Can you email the template for the parent contact stickers and the log sheet? PRETTY PLEASE. You might have just saved me a ton of stress.
Sure thing, Jessica! E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.