Friday, May 20, 2016

Why I Over-Communicate with Parents

How is your parent communication? Do you speak with your students' families on a regular basis… weekly, monthly, yearly at the IEP meeting? Keeping in touch with parents can be a difficult task but it is so important.
Typically parents only get phone calls or notes home when their child is in trouble. They see the school's phone number pop up on their called ID and have a moment of panic. I don't want my students' families to get that feeling when they see my name. I want them to expect a call with good news about a goal they have met or a fun activity they are enjoying and excelling with. Parent communication needs to be a balance of positive and negative. As a private therapist, I don't have required face-to-face parent meetings. If I see a child at their school or daycare, there's a good chance it may be a long time before I meet the parents of my student. I want them to feel comfortable communicating with me about their concerns, questions, and the progress that their child is making. 

Now I know it's not really possible to have weekly conversations with every child's parents. There just isn't enough hours in a day. So I created a parent communication folder that I send home with my students weekly. I actually call it a homework folder, but I am much more conceded with the communication portion of it. Here is what I include in the folder:
1. A Calendar: I make note of the dates and time speech sessions are held, dates the school is closed, dates of meetings, when a re-evaluation is due, how many therapy sessions are remaining if the child's insurance only covers a certain amount at a time, any pertinent information. My hopes with this is that parents will schedule dentist and doctor appointments around speech (wishful thinking, I know!) and also remember to contact me if a session needs to be canceled for any reason.
2. My Day In Speech Log: this is a simple and to the point activity/behavior log. It includes the date, a few lines to note what we worked on, a place to report on behavior and if homework was given. I typically fill this out during the remaining few minutes of a session when the child has earned a reward activity.
3. A Communication Log: I use this if a longer note needs to be left for the parents. There's also plenty of space on this log for a parent to leave a note for you.
Including all of these things aren't necessary for all parents. Some will be over joyed that you tell them each week what you are working on. And some probably won't give it a second look. But at least you are putting in the time to reach out to your students' parents. And that is fantastic. (Psst...this is a great bonus for your end of the year when evaluations come up!) You can download a copy of my communication folders for free, here!

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