Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Beyond the family survey

As a teacher I was a huge fan of the family survey.  It helped me learn the answers to very specific questions about children and their families (who lives with you? Is your child afraid of anything? What are your child's favorite foods?).  As a parent, I just filled out one of these surveys for my daughter's class the other day, and when I was done it felt like I hadn't really given her teachers a lot of information. It certainly wasn't going to help them get to know her better, and at this age the answers change so regularly that they may not even be relevant in a month - how many preschoolers will tell you that their favorite food is hot dogs and then a week later they refuse to eat hot dogs ever again?!

Now that I've experienced this type of survey from the parents' point of view, I'd love to encourage you to try something a little different with your families.  Instead of giving parents a sheet full of questions and asking them to fill it out, why not hand them a blank piece of paper and ask each parent to write you a letter about their child.  They can tell you the things that they really want you to know; all of the things that they love about their child, what makes their child unique, the things that have surprised them, and the types of qualities they wish to encourage.  This is a wonderful opportunity to really get to know families and children through a completely different lens, and your families will probably surprise you with what they are willing to share in their letters. 

I even created a letter to send home when you introduce this idea to parents, you can download it for free HERE
I would love to hear your feedback if you try this with your families, please let me know how it goes!

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