Two years ago, I made a professional goal to increase parent communication. My school requires a weekly class newsletter. Yes, I said weekly. I keep mine short and sweet, but I estimate that only half of my parents ever read them. My students complete an agenda every day with their “I can” statements for the day. Again, parents do NOT read. And then the idea for Friday journals came to mind. They won’t read what I write, but they love to read what their child writes! (Especially when their child is begging and pleading!)
I LOVE, LOVE my Friday journals!
All of my students have a notebook. I use composition books, but spiral notebooks are fine. During the last 10 minutes every Friday, my students write a letter to their parents. They write about the activities that we did during the week, new facts or skills that they have learned, their goals and their proud moments. I spent some time at the beginning of the year teaching the friendly letter format. Since I encourage students to use their best writing, grammar, spelling and handwriting skills- this is a great writing practice.
Friday journals are so much more than a writing assignment. Since kiddos are writing about what they learned during the week, it is a form of an exit ticket or a closing to the lesson. Kids have the opportunity to reflect on their learning and teach their parents. This is powerful!
Students are also helping me to keep the parents informed about our classroom happenings! Parents are so much more likely to read a letter from their child than they are to read my newsletter! And now the kids are doing the work, instead of me.
Students love the Friday journals too. I let parents know that they can write a letter back to their student in the journal! As my students unpack their backpack on Monday, they find their journal and excitedly read the note from their parent. I love that parents are encouraging their student and complimenting them on their growth. They have fantastic conversations in those journals that warm my heart and bring smiles to the kiddos’ faces! Sometimes a kiddo doesn’t have a letter in their journal, but they don’t mind too much. They will just remind their parents next week. And if a kiddo really never gets a note from their parent- I grab their notebook out of their desk every few minutes. I leave them a surprise letter!
It costs about 50 cents (or less) for a notebook and 10 minutes of class time per week! So doable!
How about a FREEBIE?! You can download my Friday journal cover and a letter to parents (that I glue on the inside cover) by clicking on the picture below.
I love this idea! Do you have parents that do not write to their child? If so, how do you handle that?
I encourage parents to write back but I do not require it. I don't check their notebooks. I view them as a conversation between a child and their parent. I am sure that many of the parents don't write back- or at least don't write back every week. My students are allowed to read their journals as they unpack on Monday morning. I will have some kids reading a letter while some are doing bell work, others are filling out their agenda and others are still unpacking. Students don't really know if they are the only one without a letter. No pressure. I hope that makes sense.
Jamie, Do you have a girl cover available for this?
City Girl Teacher
I love this! Love, love, love it! I'm really going to try and incorporate this.
I have done this for years now, but not as a letter – we do it as something I enjoyed, something I found difficult,something I'm proud of, how I did (attitude and behaviour) and my goal for next week. A bit more formal but it has a;ways, always been appreciated by parents ! Our school has now taken the model on in different ways !
I LOVE THIS! Implementing it this year with my 6th graders. Let's see how it goes!
What a great idea! This is definitely something I would like to try next year. Thanks for sharing!
I would be interested in a girl cover as well if you can create one!
Do you ever have difficulty with parents insisting on students correcting their journals at home? I am afraid some of my parents might make the journal such a chore students would not want to write in them, or at least, write less in them.
I've done this for three years and it is amazing how much some of the kids share with their parents. I love it when parents write an encouraging positive message back to their children. It really reinforces how important the relationship is to the education of our students.