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Educator: Wrap Up the Year by Engaging Families

Wrap Up the Year by Engaging Families


Between the end of testing and the last day of school are a few weeks that seem to exist in some other dimension--where hours fly by like minutes and days pass by in a blur. But before you say goodbye for the summer, don’t forget to wrap up the year by engaging families.

Remember, engaging families is helping them be a part of the learning and doing in your school community.

Here are some ideas:

  1. Don’t let the year end without inviting families to reflect.  You’ve worked hard this year. So have your students and their families! If your students collect a portfolio of work or do a capstone project, don't just showcase the work. Invite families to sit down and talk to each other about the work. Remember, engaging families is helping them be a part of the learning and doing in your school community. So send home questions like:

  • Show me the part of which you’re the most proud. Why this part?

  • What part of this challenged you the most? The least? Why?

  • If you could do it again, what would you do differently? Why?

  • What helped you be successful on this part?

 If your students don’t do a portfolio, you can still have students reflect on what they’ve done this year. You could record a short video of you and the student talking about his or her progress and hopes for next year. Text it to families and invite them to watch and talk about it together. They’ll love it.

So DO invite students and families to reflect on the year (and read this article about sharing student work with families. It’s so important to move beyond test scores!)


2.     Don’t forget to say “thank you” to families. Hopefully you’ve had a productive and fulfilling working relationship with the families of your students! But even if it’s been less than stellar, it’s important to take the time to express some gratitude. Think of it as laying the groundwork for your colleagues in the next grade. And one request—keep it small and personal. One of my child’s teachers wrote a very nice letter that I found, word for word, on the Internet two days later. I know the end of the year is a busy time but 3 lines directed personally at me is much better than a fancy form letter.

So DO express your gratitude.


3.     Don’t print out a packet of summer work. Summer is not a time for worksheets. Kids hate them, parents resent them, and teachers waste their time creating them.

Instead, DO give families a list of free, exciting learning options for the summer and give them some guidance on how to personalize them. Share Khan Academy, AdaptedMind, RAZ kids, Newsela. There are also apps like Bedtime Math. There are books like the Parent Playbooks which give simple fun learning activities for families to do at home. Give families a list of tried and true read aloud favorites. Tell families the connections between physical activity and mental health. In short, assure families that summer is a time for learning to be fun and flexible and NOT worksheet based.

4.     Don’t just hope families find the resources in your community. Undoubtedly the local library has some great summer programming. The local science museum probably does to. Summer concert series? It probably exists! Do a little research, or better yet, help your PTA do some research on the resources available in the summer. Speaking of the PTA, one of the hardest parts of summer learning for families is keeping up the momentum and motivation. In this, the PTA can help. Talk to the PTA leaders about a good way to post a weekly “learning tip” or “motivation Monday” idea to help everyone focus on (fun and flexible) learning over the summer.

So, DO hook families up with the resources in your school community.


5.     Don’t wait until August to make a plan for family engagement next year. Summer is a great time to think about what kind of partnership YOU want with the families of your students. These Weekly Tips are a good place to start.

Then, DO talk to me and I’ll help you come up with a plan that works for you.


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