Preparing for Open House: The Welcome Packet
What to Include in Your Welcome Packet
As you prepare for open house, make a list of what information you need your parents to have to ensure a smooth transition into the school year. If you are a returning teacher, think about what parents contacted you about the most last school year. Was it the homework policy, attendance questions, or lunch? Some areas to consider are:
- Discipline Policy: Include what offenses you focus on. Is there a warning system in place? When will parents be contacted? What forms of punishment are used?
- Homework Policy: How many days a week will homework come home? Is there a set schedule? What happens when homework is not completed? If you use a weekly reading log, you can include a sample log to help parents and students become more familiar with expectations. A sample reading log can be downloaded from the media gallery.
- Lunch Procedure: How much does lunch cost? What time is lunch? Include a copy of the menu and information on how lunch money can be deposited. Do you allow student's to call home if they forget their lunch?
- Daily Schedule: This helps parents when scheduling doctor's visits; suggest that maybe appointments work best during special classes and not reading class. A sample daily schedule can be downloaded from the media gallery.
- School Calendar: Include the class calendar so that parents have scheduled days off ahead of time. This makes it easier for families who want to schedule vacations.
- Contact information: Include emails and phone numbers for you, any team teachers, the principal, and secretary. Also include the information for the attendance office.
- Suggested Reading Lists: Offer reading lists that can help parents guide a child's reading throughout the year.
- List of Major Projects, Units, or Field Trips: Provide a general list of what major topics you will cover during the year. If there are field trips you know will be scheduled, list those as well. This can help parents get their child excited about the new year, and it can also give them a heads up of things to come. You may also find someone who is an expert in a particular field who can come into the classroom to help support a unit.
- Snack: What is your snack policy and are there any food allergies that need to be addressed?
Parent Sign Off
One final piece of paper that needs to be included is a form that parents will sign stating that they have received and read the welcome packet. Ask parents to return the verification forms during the first week of school and keep them on file. Should any questions come up, or parents come to you in December with the ever popular "we didn't know that was the policy" excuse, you have a signed document that says they read the information presented during the first week of school.
There may be other forms and papers that the school may want to provide, including information on medicines and other procedures that are regulated school-wide. Be sure you check with your secretary or building principal so that parent's are armed with all of the necessary information. Suggest that parents keep this packet handy throughout the school year for reference. They can always check the packet before emailing you, hopefully saving you a little time and frustration!