When writing the math lesson plans (that can be found on the mathathome website) part of the process was to write a short letter to parents about the lesson that could be changed, or personalized. The goal of this was to create something that could support childcare providers as they communicate with the families in their programs. The letters were purposefully linked as Word documents so that each program could date the letter, personalize it for their parents or make substantial changes as they see fit.
Sounds easy, right? Not so much. I found that trying to hit exactly the right tone was hard, especially since I wasn’t writing for a group of parents I know, but a broad group of parents I definitely did not know. I tried to think about how to engage parents with the topic, write so the letter was informative but not filled with lingo, and write so that I was in no way condescending. I worry about all of that as I write for any audience, not to mention any kind of writing error that may come across as carelessness, or, worst case scenario, as uneducated.
For my entire career I have written letters to parents as a teacher, as a director, and as an adult educator. Finding the right tone is always a struggle……
One piece of advice I would encourage everyone to follow- Always have your written work edited by someone else. I’ll tell you a little story about how I learned this lesson.
I was into my second year as a director of a preschool when I wrote my monthly “Director’s Newsletter”. Somewhere in the text of that letter I wrote “for all intensive purposes” when I should have written “for all intents and purposes”. One of the teachers caught the mistake before the letter was copied and distributed. Although, it was humiliating and embarrassing to have shown my ignorance in front of one of the teachers, it would have been a million times worse if it had been in front of 200+ parents. Let this be a lesson two you (get it?)