Class newsletters: Helpful or unnecessary?

I have been receiving our first-grader’s class email for the last year few weeks,  and I think for the first time in a long time I actually found a class newsletter to be useful.

The teacher was very specific about what they are studying in class (short A last week, short I this week) and what skills we can work on at home (counting by 10 but starting at random numbers like 8). That’s useful information. That’s information I can act on.

I follow the school on Facebook so I generally know when special events are, and I guess because both Walsh and Rose spent most of the day with gifted instructors so their class newsletters weren’t particularly relevant. I didn’t care what spelling words the class was working on because that’s not what my kids were working on.

I plan to print out her class emails because there are so many skills the teacher wanted the parents reinforcing at home.

Do you like for teachers to send out class newsletters/emails? Do you actually read them? Do you find them useful? Are you getting your school news other ways?

29 comments Add your comment

Bee Hive Haired cashier at Dooleys Den

September 9th, 2013
5:14 am

catlady

September 9th, 2013
5:44 am

At our school teachers are required to do this. I doubt that 20 percent of the parents read them, and even fewer act on it.

A

September 9th, 2013
5:49 am

I appreciate any info or feedback our busy teachers send out. This year for 5th grade we are getting an electronic newsletter and automated weekly emails/texts from the 2 main teachers. Then TAG sends out a separate update. At this point, there’s not much to “act” on like in younger grades, but it’s good to know what the classes are doing and I do read all communications from the school.

motherjanegoose

September 9th, 2013
6:07 am

@catlady…thanks for the Monday laugh!

RJ

September 9th, 2013
7:17 am

As a parent, I always read whatever is sent home. I appreciate teachers sharing the information with me. As a teacher, I know that most parents don’t bother to read what’s sent home. I will be sending a newsletter soon informing parents that their children are now required to take tests in music mandated by the school system. They should at least know that it’s happening and how they can help their kids do well.

FCM

September 9th, 2013
7:35 am

All School emails I read. The papers/hardcopy in the bookbag–especially the generic school ones, I rarely read.

I am not as concerned about what the kids will be learning in the next week, as in what BIG stuff (tests, projects, and papers) are upcoming. Mostly b/c information on how to re-enforce at home is not provided.

EX:

“Next Week:
Math: Order of Operations
Reading: Theme and stamina reading
Writing: Persuasive Writing
Social Studies: Battle Brochure Walk and Key People (Civil War Test will most like be scheduled the week of September 16th)”

Of all the above only one thing is going on the calendar and getting discussed at length at home. (Yes it is the test).

4th and 5th grades now have their grades online. I LOVE LOVE LOVE it. Been begging for it for 2 years now. That I read daily!

TWG do your kids have Edmodo? Cobb started that this year. It replaces blogs and looks like a FB ripoff. The kids loathe it. We have the txt reminders in 3 classes. Those my 8th grader does like.

Something to think about: We went to our first HS football game (I hadn’t been in 25 years)and it was interesting as a parent to figure out how to let them be with friends and keep them “safe”.

motherjanegoose

September 9th, 2013
7:44 am

I always shared that educating your child is a 3 legged stool: teacher, child, parent. If one of the legs is not doing their part, the stool will not be successful. It could be any of the above. When parents do not care what is happening with their child and just pass the buck to the teacher, it is a sad day. I can do my best with your child but I am not ultimately responsible for him/her. I can only work with what you give me. If you give me a child who is rested, fed, clean, respectful and eager to learn….so much can be accomplished. It is not always about my perception of your child either. Peers judge each other very quickly and that can play a big role in what happens throughout the year. Children who smell bad due to lack or hygiene or sadly like cigarettes, maybe they are cranky since they are hungry/tired…are not the most popular or successful students. This is really terrible as it could be corrected pretty quickly. Some parents do not want you to point out the littlest things that can be fixed. My son had a speech issue and when the note came home, I signed up for whatever he needed. Just take care of what he needs…those were my thoughts!

FCM

September 9th, 2013
8:09 am

MJG to be fair the child that I used the newsletter an example of has an A in math, B in reading, and A in Social Studies. The other child has the Edmodo thing and I read it daily. I know you were not talking about me specifically but when the information provided is not a useful tool to me, but maybe it would be to someone else, then I sort of fall into that tottering stool.

Techmom

September 9th, 2013
8:13 am

I never got classroom newsletters. My son’s school sends a weekly newsletter via email mostly discussing upcoming school events. I could see how in the early grades, this info is useful however once they’re middle or high school, there’s no need for it.

FCM – grades online can be nice but I think it lends to helicopter parenting. I wanted my son to succeed but sometimes I think having the grades and assignments online forced me to hover more than I should have and consequently didn’t allow him to “fail” at a younger age when he could benefit more from the lesson of failing versus me nagging.

As for the football games, what are you worried about? I think they’re actually pretty safe environments.

Techmom

September 9th, 2013
8:42 am

By the way FCM, that wasn’t meant to be posted with a condescending tone. I really do think I didn’t do a good enough job at letting my son fail because I was too worried about grades and about being the ‘good parent’ who makes sure her kid shows up with all his work complete even if it meant me spending hours hovering over him to get it done.

jarvis

September 9th, 2013
8:48 am

FCM, I also went to my first High School game in about 2 decades last week. Very positive experience.

My two are still a little too young to wander around on their own, but I saw no issues with middle school + aged kids being able to mingle. I like the whole thing being confined in betwen the fences with police at the entrances. I felt like everyone was safe while still being able to move around….little kids playing tag in the green space while the older kids were loitering and/or making out in the shadows….some things never change.

And Lassiter won. Go Trojans!

FCM

September 9th, 2013
10:38 am

@ jarvis, hey you are out by me! I agree it was nice to have the police there. Apparently MS child saw them get after some folks and escort one person off property. In general I did feel it was “safe”. She knew kids from church youth and from summer stock drama that are in HS.

@ Tech Mom I get how it can be allow for helicopter, I didn’t take it badly. I just ask is HW done? I do not ask to see or review it. Then when a “0″ gets logged I say, hey you said this was done…what happened? Up to her to go to her teacher and straighten it out. There are consequences for the “0″ or for bad grades but I am not checking HW on an 8th grader.

I guess where I hover is tests, I point out that a test is coming and I am available to “quiz” anyone who wants to study. She does really well on the test and then I point out how her lack of getting HW in on time the “A” loses out…b/c the over all score is “C, D, or F” (whatever it may be).

DB

September 9th, 2013
1:01 pm

@Techmom: Knowing that you were “hovering” probably means that you weren’t as helicopter-y as you think you were. :-) That’s actually one of the reasons why I am sorta of ‘eh’ on all the information being thrown at parents — it seems like it takes the responsibility for learning off of the kids and puts it onto the parents. I mean, look at T’s comment about knowing about which letters are being practiced in class. To me, that’s almost TMI — wouldn’t it also be apparent when a child brought home a practice sheet to practice their “a” and “i” for “homework”? I’m not sure I could resist the temptation, either, to say, brightly, “Oh, I see you are practicing “a”s in class — show me how you draw an “A”! Is that useful? I dunno. If I was a kid, I’d think it was a little creepy that my parents knew exactly what I was doing every day in school. I’m looking back on it, of course, from a distance, but I think I would have felt somewhat cornered if I knew that my teacher and my parents were corresponding every single day — it seems to take away some elementary decision-making away from the child. What if he doesn’t WANT to do his homework that day? Maybe he shouldn’t do it — and see what the consequences are. Is it CYA for the teacher? Is it ok for a parent to monitor every movement and every learning moment of their child?

I don’t know. Just musing aloud, here. I just don’t see where the additional information is particularly improving the overall level of education — in fact, does it adversely affect the teacher’s time that could be better spent in planning or teaching?

@FCM: Do you know why she isn’t getting homework done? Too many extracurriculars? Or just doesn’t want to spend the time on it? Disorganized and loses it? It must be frustrating for her (and for you!) to get A’s on exams and still not see the results in her grades. On the other hand, 8th grade is the last time that the grades “don’t count” in terms of college admissions, if that’s where she’s headed. It may be useful to look at typical college GPA acceptances in colleges where she thinks she might be interested in going (i.e., is she a die-hard Dawg? Interested in GTech?) and compare them to her current “GPA” and see where the gaps are — and give her a heads up of what the expectations will be.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

September 9th, 2013
1:12 pm

FCM – great topic on when to let go alone to games — I know some schools have rules about no dropping off under a certain age. I was amazed before at elementary school parents being wiling to drop that age off at a Parkview game — I will use

We do not have the Emodo — i will look up. They do have all their grades online and I try not to look so I don’t micromanage but good to know it is there just in case I want to check.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

September 9th, 2013
1:17 pm

It’s raining here — I’ve only seen it rain this long one other time three years ago — it is shocking to see rain here — I am worried about street flooding because it doesn’t soak into the ground — crazy stuff people!!!

motherjanegoose

September 9th, 2013
1:46 pm

@ TWG…it rained in August when I was in PHX and the little children were so excited to tell me that they stomped in the puddles. Kind of like our kids in ATL saying they made a snowman, because it snowed.

FCM no harm no foul.

In fairness, I checked bookbags for all sorts of things when mine were in ES. Never brought work in though. As they moved to middle school, I eased off and rarely got into much in HS. I never looked online at grades or assignments, I do not think we had that option. I have NEVER seen a college report card either …do they have one? Yes, I think we had to fax it to the insurance agent and they sent it themselves. My kids know what I expect. One down and one to go.

I have a friend who is in a tizz about college apps. She posted that her counselor was not helpful and now she has hired someone to review her son’s apps. They live in another state and in an affluent area. A good solid family. I commented that mine never ever showed me what that sent, in their app. My take was that if THRY were to get into the school, they need to impress the reviewers with THEIR knowledge and not my coaching. I had NOTHING to do with it. Not sure I would have been any help either as their majors are WAY different than mine. She replied that the schools looking at her child’s app are rather competitive to get into. HAHA…that made me laugh as UGA and Mercer School of Pharmacy are not a walk in the park. We are NOT talking IVY league here. Guess I am clueless and that is because I am in early childhood! Oh well!

FCM

September 9th, 2013
1:53 pm

@DB I just printed the requirements for schools she says she wants to apply (I know it could change). I think she doesn’t turn in the homework for a variety of reasons. Organization (and we do go through her bookbag but really, shouldn’t I be less helicopter on that too?) is one side. If she understands the material she sees no reason to “practice” it as homework. She could be busy working on pulling up some other area she let slip and thus figures this one assignment won’t matter. It is not because she cannot do the work. It is not because she doesn’t have the time to get it done. Her extra curriculars haven’t even really started (only church youth group). She already knows the deadline, she can try out for the school play but if her grades are not up to where I set the bar (obtainable only if all the work is in) then I pull her from the play. If they drop after that she has to tell the director to recast her role and she owes me whatever I paid for the club. Then we take back various trips that go with school or church….and church youth group gets pulled last.

She needs to understand better that she won’t get 2nd chance to get it in. I see she did speak to one teacher and something must have happened that C is now an A. She still has 3 subjects that have “Missing” work listed on the grade site.

FCM

September 9th, 2013
1:53 pm

@DB I just printed the requirements for schools she says she wants to apply (I know it could change). I think she doesn’t turn in the homework for a variety of reasons. Organization (and we do go through her bookbag but really, shouldn’t I be less helicopter on that too?) is one side. If she understands the material she sees no reason to “practice” it as homework. She could be busy working on pulling up some other area she let slip and thus figures this one assignment won’t matter. It is not because she cannot do the work. It is not because she doesn’t have the time to get it done. Her extra curriculars haven’t even really started (only church youth group). She already knows the deadline, she can try out for the school play but if her grades are not up to where I set the bar (obtainable only if all the work is in) then I pull her from the play. If they drop after that she has to tell the director to recast her role and she owes me whatever I paid for the club. Then we take back various trips that go with school or church….and church youth group gets pulled last.

She needs to understand better that she won’t get 2nd chance to get it in. I see she did speak to one teacher and something must have happened that C is now an A. She still has 3 subjects that have “Missing” work listed on the grade site.

motherjanegoose

September 9th, 2013
1:55 pm

wow…typos on my end…sorry!

FCM

September 9th, 2013
1:56 pm

sorry didn’t mean to post twice

Atlanta Mom

September 9th, 2013
3:00 pm

My first thought about this was, yet another way to make homework the parent’s responsibility instead of the child’s. I think it’s a good idea for grades 1-3, after that I would only want important upcoming events, like, school closings.
The earlier students have t o be responsible, the easier for the family, all the way around.

DB

September 9th, 2013
3:47 pm

FCM, have you read “Parenting With Love and Logic”? I found it to be extremely helpful, it helped me clarify quite a bit “who owns the problem” — it was rather refreshing to realize that many of the problems I thought were mine were actually theirs. :-) In this case, your daughter owns the problem of the homework. You have a lot of consequences lined up “if A, then B, then C”, etc., and it can’t help but set you up in a somewhat adversarial role. You know your daughter best, of course, however, I have a feeling you would really appreciate the way consequences are discussed and presented up in the book — it takes you out of the policeman role. Nobody likes being the policeman.

DB

September 9th, 2013
5:20 pm

OT: for those who wondered what the heck Miley Cyrus was doing at the MTV awards — her latest video features her buck-azz nekkid swinging on a wrecking ball and licking a sledgehammer. WTH?!?! RIP, Hannah Montana . . .

Bee Hive Haired cashier at Dooleys Den

September 9th, 2013
6:25 pm

Must be them little cooked onions.

Longtime Educator

September 9th, 2013
9:06 pm

Retired now, but when I was still in the classroom, weekly communication became a requirement. At first it was simple handwritten reminders, etc. in a cutesy theme for that month. Then we had to do a more formal looking newsletter and it had to be typed…later, we had to do a blog that needed weekly updates. Oh, and for those parents with no internet access, we had to make sure we made copies of the blog to send home. (back to the printed newsletter, right?) I never had a problem with any of it because I enjoyed letting the parents know what was going on.

beth

September 9th, 2013
11:12 pm

I love getting the class newsletter and I read them every week. Whether it’s just a “hey, here’s what we’re doing in class” or a “you need to remember these dates”… I find them useful and informative. Last year’s 1st grade teacher would have a “code” word put in them and would it would say… have your student tell me the code word and they can be excused from morning work 1 day of the week. That was her way of figuring out who is reading the newsletters. I thought it was genius!

FCM

September 10th, 2013
7:49 am

DB I did read it years ago. I think I need to re-read it. That one has natural consequences for actions (refuse the umbrella get wet) right? Or letting them have choice you can live with: Put the toys up and take your bath so we have time to read or take your bath then put the toys away but no reading time. Right?

I see they have one for dealing with Teens. I have to check it out.

I did print the current admission requirements to the school she most talks about. I put her current GPA up in the corner of the paper. I put it on her pillow and told her that I had left something there. I noticed she did read it. We shall see what impact it has. Again, she said her school work was done and she was talking to her teachers about the “Missing” in the grade log.

Other child said I need my folder signed. I asked did she rework the items the teacher asked her too? No. Then I am not signing. That child is just stubborn but I went to the teacher to make sure she knew what I was doing. As MJG/catlady say we have to stand together.

Kathrine

September 10th, 2013
9:42 am

my parents in-law recently got a new Lexus HS 250h Sedan by working part-time from a laptop. see this here………….http://xurl.es/earningjobs

Kat

September 11th, 2013
11:46 am

Church youth group gets pulled last? Maybe God will help your child complete his/her college applications.