Parents of young children are constantly inundated with information and are often balancing multiple children, work, and other elements of a busy life. Having a regular, single point of communication from the school or childcare center that includes important and relevant information can go a long way in easing the burdens on parents. A school newsletter provides a reliable source of information and can serve as an important collective resource for the entire school community.
Beyond the value to families, a newsletter can also be a great resource for schools, as well. School newsletters streamline information sharing and ensure consistent messaging and information to families. They convey a sense of organization and calm and give parents and caregivers a window into all that a school is doing throughout the year.
When done well, a school newsletter can be a powerful tool for family engagement, a resource to reach prospective families, a mechanism to highlight and catalog the incredible work teachers and staff do on a daily basis, and a tangible and regular point of connection for all members of a school. Here are some tips on what you might include, the best way to format information, and how to reach families to get the most out of your school newsletter.
Information to Inform, Educate, and Connect
- Calendar of Events: Include a list of important dates for the month as well as any future dates that families should mark on their calendar. These might include school holidays, early release days, theme days, school performances, and any other relevant events or celebrations.
- Letter from the Director: Consider having a letter from the director included in the newsletter at least once a month. This provides a great opportunity to personalize the newsletter and directly reach parents. As part of this letter, you might highlight important happenings, share gratitude for successful events, talk about upcoming schoolwide or grade-level learning themes, spotlight news from the school (such as the acquisition of new playground equipment), or share any other messages with families.
- Opportunities for Parent Participation: Share upcoming volunteer opportunities for parents. Include information on how parents should sign up and any other important information parents need to know when participating.
- Staff Celebrations and Shout-outs: A school newsletter can be a great forum to celebrate staff contributions and welcome any new school staff. Consider including a photo with some information about the staff person so families can recognize them when they see them at school and share a personal congratulations or greeting.
- Openings: Current school families can be a great resource for filling openings at schools. Current parents are already familiar with school teachers and staff, acclimated to school routines and procedures, and connected to students and families, easing the transition of a new hire.
- At-Home Learning Tips: Newsletters are a great place to share preschool-friendly resources, activities, and learning tips and strategies. You might include a note about what types of questions to ask a child when reading, suggestions for a fun activity such as sorting dry cereal by color to practice, or a link to a valuable resource.
- School Sponsors: If your school has community sponsors, a newsletter is a great place to share their information. This opportunity to have business information shared incentivizes organizations to support your school and provides a helpful connection between families and local businesses.
Formatting Tips to Increase Impact
- Give it a Fun Name: Consider naming the newsletter in a way that personalizes it to your school community.
- Put the Calendar First: Many parents will likely save these newsletters and look back to them for dates and times of events. Including the calendar first provides a resource that families can quickly consult for information.
- Include Photos: If possible, use the newsletter to share photos of learning and playing from the school day. This helps to break up the text and gives parents a way to see the learning that is happening. Of course, be sure to get parent permission before sharing photos.
- Bold Headings and Important Information: By adding bold headlines, families are quickly able to find the information they are looking for within the newsletter. And, finding a way to accentuate important information such as dates and times makes the information stand out to families.
- Denote Changes to Events, Dates, or Times: When an event or activity is updated, mark the new information as revised. This helps families to know that the old information is no longer accurate.
Ideas for Disseminating to Expand Reach
- Send on a Regular Cadence: Choose a weekly or monthly schedule to send out the newsletter. Stick to a consistent date or day of the week, and inform parents ahead of time when to expect it. When families know they can rely on information at a certain date, they will wait to read the newsletter before reaching out with questions about upcoming events.
- Print and Email the Newsletter: Consider sending the newsletter home with students in their backpacks and emailing copies to parents. A physical copy of the newsletter becomes an artifact that families are likely to keep on their refrigerator. An emailed copy provides a quick reference for families who need to access information on the go.
- Share with Prospective Families: While the information in the newsletter is most relevant for current families, consider sharing the newsletter with potential families as a way for them to learn more about the school. A well-designed newsletter becomes almost like an informational flyer about the school that showcases learning and events while providing a connection to the school community.