Friday, July 1, 2011

Communication Between Home & School

I just got back from my wonderful vacation and have been busy running errands, going to appointments, and getting settled back into my everyday life.  It was an amazing two weeks full of relaxation and visiting with family and friends.  Since it's summer, I'll continue to relax and move at a slower pace, but I can't help myself and must work on school stuff along the way.

Among my long school to-do list is figuring out what I plan to use for communication between home and school.  I've tried a variety of things in the past, but haven't fallen in love with anything.  My first year I used regular folders that went home and back everyday.  News flash... those folders don't hold up all year!  (Hey, it was my first year. lol)  My second year I used hard binders (BEE Books) that had a pouch for money, notebook paper for notes, and a few important papers in page protectors.  Again, these binders were destroyed!  Last year was the best option thus far... plastic folders.  I put notebook paper in the prongs for notes and a few important papers in page protectors.  For the most part, these folders held up going back and forth daily.  What I found with all of these methods was that the notebook paper wasn't used for communication (it was torn out or scribbled on by siblings) and the page protectors went missing.

One factor that will play into my decision of what to use for communication is how I do my homework.  I think this year I am going to do a monthly homework calendar and have the kids turn it in every Friday and return it to them on Monday.  For this, I will use a regular folder with prongs and replace it quarterly so it's always fresh and neat.  (I found a great site with monthly homework calendars: here.)

So, what do I do about daily communication needs?  What if a student needs to bring lunch money or has a note from home?  What do I use to send home corrected work or other papers?  This is where I'm stuck.  I can't figure out what to do.  I need them to have something to put their stuff in, but don't think it's necessary for them to take something home and back everyday.  I suppose I could use regular folders for this, too, and replace them quarterly like the homework folders.  I just hate having to waste my time looking through mostly empty folders everyday.

I would LOVE, LOVE, LOVE your thoughts and ideas on this topic.  Please share!


  1. In the past I have used a folder (provided by the students). On the inside I stapled a calendar on the left side (this could be your homework calendar). I used the calendar to record student behavior (I had a stop light system, so a quick green dot was on most folders). It also let parents know important dates and the days we had PE.

    On the right side I stapled a zip-loc baggie at the top (yes this had to be replaced occasionally, but was CHEAP!). The baggie was for money or important notes. I found that money and notes often got lost deep in the bottom of the folder. Adding the baggie helped ALOT!

    I was able to return work or send home important notices in the folder. I taught the students to put their folders in a box each morning. They were even able to put them in ABC order (by first name) for me as the year progressed. This made it easier to find a folder if I needed it.

    Parents checked it every night and it took about 2 minutes in the morning to take out notes and money....which would have all been lost in the book bag without this system. You could have the children open and check their folders for notes/money as they turn them in to save you the time.

    Ask the students to send plastic folders for more durability. Asking a parent to come each month to staple on calendars and replace/repair baggies and folders would be a great time saver as well.

    Good Luck! I look forward to seeing other ideas! :-)

  2. I've always done a weekly Friday Folder. I use a cheap paper folder and also have students donate folder that can be used as replacements. In on side I write "Send back" and on the other "Keep". On the send back side, I have a comment page in which I write a weekly note and the parents write back. On the keep side I send all the corrected papers back with them that have been store in their mailbox (which are actually the black paper stackers from staples). Parents just know that if anything extra needs to be sent in, they send it in an envelope to me, call me, or email me. It's worked pretty well for me :)

  3. Good ideas, ladies! Thanks for sharing!!

  4. This year I am going to send home a Friday Folder. Inside of the Friday Folder I will have labels "Communication from School or Communication from Front Office" (haven't decided on the exact wording. On the other side will be "Classwork". This folder will go home on Friday and should be returned on Monday.

    I will also have a Homework Folder. This folder will go home on Wednesday because my school week will begin on Thursday and end on Wednesday.

    Hopefully this will work for me.

  5. Well, after thinking, searching, and reading about this topic I think I have a decision.

    Here's my plan (for now):
    -I will have a Homework Folder (it will go home the first of the month with a new homework calendar, come back to school every Friday, and then go back home on Mondays.
    -I will also have a Monday Take Home Folder (it will only go home on Mondays with my weekly newsletter and graded papers; it will be returned to school the next day)
    -I may use the school provided (maybe- budget?) agenda book as a daily back and forth for notes and reminders

    My only concern with this is if I have something that absolutely has to go home in the middle of the week. I suppose I could just put that inside the agenda book.

    Thanks again for your ideas!

  6. Sounds good! My school also uses an agenda book (I ask for parents to sign this book daily) and if I have documents that need immediate attention I attach it inside with a note.
    Good Luck!

  7. This would be a perfect post for our linky party! I'd love it if you'd share :)

    We do friday folders as well, and if something needs to come home during the week I either send it home in their backpack and remind the kids about it, plus an email/blog about it to the parents, or I staple the note to their bags :) It gets the point across :)

    The folders we use are a little pricey, but they hold up so well!!

    Mrs. Bee
    Bee's KinderGarden

  8. Mrs.Bee- Which linky party are you talking about? I'd love to link up, but not sure where. Let me know! :)

  9. SO late to the party, but I still thought I'd share my 2 cents! Nicky folders are fantastic. They hold up SO well through the year. Our school actually buys them. At my old school, they bought different colors so that blue were daily homework folders and green could be make-up work.

    One great thing about them is that you have a front pocket (like a binder) that I use for a sheet that says their name and teacher, and a back pocket (that I use for the weekly newsletter). The weekly newsletter has the spelling words, our reading story, the vocab. words, reminders, a place for them to color their spot on the behavior chart for the day... hopefully something the parents are referencing often. You could use that pocket for the monthly homework calendar if you wanted!

    I have a basket on my desk and the students know that homework goes in the homework tray, and ANYTHING ELSE in their folder goes in my basket. Money, notes from home, etc. Occasionally I will find that someone has forgotten, but they are normally GREAT about remembering!

  10. My students are older (2nd grade). I start off early in the year giving them a homework calendar, and then move into copying from the board. This is why they have a homework notebook(just the marble ones from the dollar store or Walmart, set up for primary use). I staple the baggie inside to slip their behavior sheet in each day, and homework sheet for the week. Also, there's paper there so the parents can write me a note back and forth. If it's something I need documented, I can just photocopy it. It also gets the students in the habit of taking that book home each day, and it holds up much better than any folder.

  11. At the beginning of the year my "School supply" list includes the following:
    1 1/2" 3-ring binder
    5 subject tapped dividers
    Notebook paper

    On the 1st day of school I have the children assemble the binders labeling each tab with Reading, ELA, Math, Science, Social Studies. I have them number them 1-5 also since the tabs they purchase are often different colors. I have them put the blank notebook paper in the back. Thankfully, my school provides agendas for the students and I have them put those in the front of the binder. If the agendas weren't provided I would print a monthly calendar for the front. Each 'day' needs space for notes from the teacher and/or the parent and daily assignments as well as behavior feedback for each day.

    I've found that as long as I repeat how important these Learning Success Binders are, the children almost all have them. Of course, I allow the kids to decorate the outside of the binders at will. I've only ever had to provide 1 or 2 that the parents didn't buy. Also, during Open House, I display examples of exactly what I want the child to have. I offer treats or "prizes" for those that have all their materials by the 1st day of school.

    These binders go home every day and come back to school each day. I can give more info about how we use these if you like and I can be contacted at I call mine P.I.R.A.T.E Logs. (People Improving Righteous Acts To Exceed).They've worked out well even with my low-income students.

    Probably TMI but I hope it helps.