Part One of Four Parts:
Is your program writing a newsletter each month? If not, seriously consider it! Newsletters are an effective means of communication between your program and parents. A great way to inform the entire school community of all you are doing!
First, BEFORE YOU START–
Decide on the purpose of the newsletter. Is it primarily a tool to convey program information, upcoming events and policy? Or is it something in which you want to include child participation? First grade to high school students have great ideas. When they are part of the newsletter creation process, they are more willing to use it as a communication tool and share it with their parents. Favorite websites and special program moments are just a couple of student generated ideas.
2. CHOOSE A TEMPLATE for the newsletter.
Microsoft Word has simple newsletter templates that can be modified for the special needs of your program. Each newsletter template allows the addition of clip art or photos with minimal computer knowledge. Click here for templates and tools from Education World.
3. PERSONALIZE THE TEMPLATE.
Include a catchy name, the issue, volume number and date. The volume number will change with each school year, but the issue number will change with each new issue of the newsletter (for example, the newsletter’s first issue in its second school year will be Volume 2, Issue 1).
4. DECIDE HOW OFTEN TO PRINT the newsletter.
With the amount of activities going on in a good child care or school-age program, one should go out every month. (A classroom newsletter may need to be written every week and PTA news will depend on budget allotment; it could be monthly or quarterly.)
- Keep your newsletter up-to-date and send it out on time. If parents feel that the newsletter only contains old news, with out-of-date information, they will not read it.
5. Any school newsletter —whether it’s an after-school program, classroom or PTA– should be informative, upbeat/fun to read, and aesthetically pleasing.
- Make it about the kids and parents alike to keep people interested in the Newsletter. The more interactive the newsletter, the more likely parents will read it. Who knows? You just may get volunteers to join in and bring some of their talents with them!
6. WHAT ARE SOME CATEGORIES THAT CAN BE INCLUDED?
- Current Activities
- Up-coming Events–both during the Program Day and Family Social Events
- Thank You’s
- Tips for Parents on Timely Topics (Discipline, Nutrition, etc.; actual ideas are in below categories)
- Family Involvement: Share favorite program recipes for snacks, play dough or crafts for families to make together at home
- Monthly Birthdays
- Favorite Websites
- Family Feature: Invite a family to tell about themselves (especially good when families are new to the program and/or school
- Collecting Beautiful Junk: Do you have a ‘Wish List’ going? Include requests for recycled materials and gently used items to that “Wish List” (Check out our Wish List ideas)
- Include cute children’s quotes or stories
- Photographs: Including photographs of students adds a little depth to the newsletter. Children (and parents) will be excited to see their faces; children are also then more willing to share with their parents. If you do this, it is important to display a picture of each student in the program at least once, and be careful not to feature one student continuously each month.
- ONE AT A TIME, SPOTLIGHT the director, program manager, and staff members in the Newsletter. Something that parents and people in general love to read are biographies on other people. Ask those involved in your program if if they would be willing to be interviewed for the newsletter. Ask in advance…The interview can be in person, or written.
…..Just write down a few questions and give it to the spotlighted person. Ask such things as how long they’ve been working with children, and what their personal hobbies are.
…..Stay away from overly personal questions such as religious and political views. Take a picture to post next to their interview.
- How about creating a “KINDNESS COLUMN” (Kindness ideas here) in your school or program newsletter! Report the news of acts of kindness being given, shared or generated by your students. What about Community Services? (Community Service Ideas here)
- A column (The Kid’s Corner) by the children is also a consideration!
TIP: Consider uploading the newsletter to your school website. If you choose to upload the newsletter to your school website, remember that the information may be searchable by the public. Many parents do not want student information available online.
IMPORTANT: If using children’s photographs, make sure you have a photo permission with the explanation on how it is to be used.
TIP: Be sure to share your newletter with the school community. Place copies in the teacher’s lounge– and if affordable–give one to each teacher and school staff member–a great way to spread the news of all the wonderful things your program is doing!
GOOD IDEA! WILL THIS BE YOUR FIRST NEWLETTER? Hold a contest to name the newsletter. Students can have two weeks to hand in suggestions. The student/program body can then vote on the names. The winner receives special recognition and a small prize and gets his or her picture in the newsletter.
The sections of ‘Newsletter Category’ are: