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?