As special educators, we often get angry at parents without actually giving them a constructive means to support what happens in our classrooms. Yes, sometimes the parent is the problem. I have found that when you give parents a constructive way to participate in supporting the behavior you want, you not only have more success at school, you also provide the parents with models for how to support positive behavior at home as well.
A home note is a form created by the teacher in conference with the parents and the student, especially older students. The teacher fills it out each day, and it is either sent home daily, or at the end of the week. The weekly form can also be sent home daily, especially with younger children. The success of a home note program is both the fact that parents know what the expected behaviors are as well as their child's performance. It makes the students accountable to their parents, especially if the parents are (as they should be) the ones rewarding good behavior and doling out consequences for inappropriate or unacceptable behavior.
A home note is a powerful part of a behavior contract, as it gives the parents daily feedback, as well as supporting the reinforcement or consequences that will increase the desirable behavior and extinguish the undesirable.
Creating a Home Note
- Decide what kind of note is going to work: daily, or weekly? As part of a Behavior Improvement Plan, you probably want a daily note. When your purpose is to intervene before you need a full blown BIP, you may do well with a weekly home note.
- Set up a meeting with the target student's parents. If this is part of a BIP, you can wait for the IEP team meeting, or you can meet ahead of time with the parents to naikl down the details. Your meeting should include: What are the parents goals? Are they willing to reinforce good behavior and create consequences for unacceptable behavior?
- With the parents, come up with the behaviors that will be included on the home note. Have both classroom (sitting, keeping hands and feet to self) and academic (completing assignments, etc.) behaviors. There should be no more than 5 behaviors for elementary students, or 7 classes for secondary students.
- In conference, decide how the behaviors will be rated: for high school students a rating system from 1 to 5, or unacceptable, acceptable, outstanding should be used. For elementary students a system like the one I created in the free printable with a frowning, flat or smiling face works well Be sure you and the parents agree with what each rating represents.
- Decide, in conference what the "reductive" consequences and positive reinforcement weleill be.
- Set consequences for failing to giving the home note to parents, or returning it> signed, to school. At home, it could be loss of television or computer privileges. For school, it could be loss of recess or a call home.
- Begin Home Notes on a Monday. Try to give really positive responses the first few days, to build a positive baseline.
Elementary Home Notes
I provide you with a weekly and daily models, and blank weekly and daily Home Notes, covering areas that usually are problematic for students with disabilities in the elementary grades.
Rewards and consequences. Suggest to parents:
- For each smiley face, an extra ten minutes of television or later bed time.
- A number of good days, let the student pick the television shows for the evening.
- For each frowny face, the child goes to bed to minutes earlier or loses 10 minutes of television or computer time.
A Weekly Home Note. Once again, it contains the behavioral and academic behaviors most likely to challenge your elementary students.
A blank Daily Home Note. This blank home note can have the periods or subjects at the top of the form and the target behaviors on the side. You can fill these in with the parent or the IEP team (as part of a BIP )
A a blank Weekly Home Note. Print this form and write in the behaviors you want to measure before you copy the form for use.