simple how-tos for written and verbal “comments” to parents
Be objective and factual. In written and verbal communication with parents, it is important to choose your words wisely to describe what you see and hear. “He watches the other children but does not sing out loud yet” or “When I showed her how to grip her pencil, she said, ‘I do it this way’ and moved her fingers back to the original position.” Avoid assigning intent or motivation (wants to, can’t seem to, choose not to…) or negative labels (didn’t, can’t, won’t). In many cases, we don’t know why a child does or doesn’t do something. A child may not be developmentally ready to do something. That does not mean they are “struggling” it just means you are not observing the skill or behavior in class yet.
Make friends with the “comments” section: This is your golden opportunity to build connection with parents. You don’t have to write a paragraph. A meaningful phrase will certainly do. For example, if there is a comment section related to skills, you may elaborate on a skill that a child excels in (“Enjoys role playing in the home center”) or an assurance that the child is doing well (“Age appropriate skills”). If there is a skill that is not developed yet, use the comment section to encourage focus by saying something like: “Provide times to cut with scissor at home.” or “Encourage independence with clothing at home."
When presenting a concern to parents, be ready to explain what strategies you've already used to address the issue and what new strategies you are considering. Parents don't want concerns dropped in their laps without at least a tentative action plan, which you'll adjust based on their input or what you learn from different strategies. This is also true for children who are doing well in school. What things are you prepared to do to meet that child where they are and help them to build on what they already know and can do.
Provide ways parents can support their child at home: "You can play simple games at home with your child to help them learn how to wait, follow rules, and take turns. Young children need lots of opportunities to practice these skills before they master them." or "As you're reading stories at night, ask your child to make predictions. This strengthens reading comprehension."
Work smarter: Type up your assessment comments and save them for reference in your personal files year to year. This will save time thinking of what to say and give you some samples to choose from.