Want to talk to your kid about school? Try email
When you ask a child at dinner how school was, you’ll probably get a one-word answer: “Fine.”
Same for “What did you do in school today?” Answer: “Nothing.”
“Do you have any special events this week?” Answer: “No.” But later you find out your child is supposed to have made a diorama or bring two dozen cookies to school.
Centre is trying to improve communication between students and parents by requiring sixth through 12th graders to send an email to parents or guardians every Monday.
The idea was the brainchild of junior high/high school principal Trevor Siebert.
“After working in education for 10 years, I’ve seen the trend that communication is always casual,” Siebert said. “When they leave our building, students will be required to write professional emails. We found that students didn’t have these skills.”
At the same time, he recognized that parents often were in the dark about their child’s grades and activities.
“We have found that sending emails to the parents has been a good conversation starter for parents to be more involved in their education and extracurricular activities,” he said. “I have enjoyed seeing that some parents will respond to their students’ emails for more information when needed.”
The emails are part of students’ Cougar Connection class.
Maranda McMichael, a counselor at the school, said she loved Siebert’s idea.
“We wanted the students to become more responsible for communicating with their parents,” she said.
The emails may touch on students’ grades, upcoming events, or questions or comments they have.
“We have had many students who did not know how to (write) an actual email until this activity,” McMichael said. “Now they are able to successfully send one every single Monday. This has been a great activity to find other areas that are lacking. We have noticed many gaps that have happened since COVID-19, and this activity has been a great way for us as staff to help fill in the gaps that we notice.”
On the first day of the project, a teacher noticed that some students didn’t know how to log in to their Skyward accounts or emails because they hadn’t needed to in elementary school. Skyward is a software system that many schools use.
“So instead of having those students send emails, the teacher focused on helping every student log in,” McMichael said. “I personally have had students tell me they appreciate this activity because they forget to ask their parents things by the time they get home and doing the emails during the school day has helped them communicate questions to their parents without forgetting.”
Students responded to emailed questions from the Record. Here are a few excerpts:
What have you learned writing emails to your parents?
Silas Nickel (eighth grader): “How to practice writing an email for a college professor or principal about school things. Learning how to use the subject, the body, and what it means to ‘CC’ someone in an email. Those are things I did not know how to do before we started this activity.”
Kenide Steiner (junior): “Through writing emails to my parents, I’ve learned how to better communicate and keep them informed.”
What have your parents said about your emails?
Silas: “That I am getting better at writing them and using proper grammar. I struggled with capitalizing certain words, using correct punctuation, and not using text terms in an email.”
Kenide: “My parents have enjoyed being updated on my activities, and it has helped them be informed on everything that I’m involved in.”
Do your parents/guardians write back to you?
Silas: “No, because my aunt works at the school. But she still has a conversation with me in person about it instead, and I like that. I like being able to practice learning how to write emails now to someone I am comfortable with. That will help me get better before I send an email to a college teacher or boss.”
Kenide: “My parents write me back most weeks.”