Family Handbook Guidelines
Each student is required to create a family handbook that you submit at the end of the semester
and will serve as your final exam. There are two goals associated with this final project. The
first goal is for your handbook to reflect the knowledge and skills you have acquired this
semester. The second goal is for your handbook to serve as a reflective guide as you begin your
teaching career. Family handbooks can be short or long, simple or complex, depending upon
one’s personal philosophy and school policies. Your handbook should reflect the following
Content. Carefully consider the content of each section of your Family handbook. It is easy to overload
families with too much information. It is also easy to provide families with too little information. Reflect
upon the basic types of information that you think are most important to share with the families
represented. Suggested page limit guidelines are listed below.
Writing style. Use a “user-friendly” writing style that is appropriate for the family backgrounds
represented in your classroom this semester. This takes some practice. Reflect upon and revise the
narrative and format of your Family handbook sections. Also consider asking a peer to review your
Family handbook and make suggestions for revision.
Visual appeal. Make every page of every section of your Family handbook attractive and inviting. Use
graphics, clip art, etc. to encourage families to read and use the handbook. Pay attention to margins,
formatting, typographical errors, etc. Due to confidentiality issues, please do not take photographs of
children unless you have solid evidence that their parents have signed photograph releases for educational
The order in which each section of your handbook should appear is presented below. Place all
materials in a three-ringed notebook. Use dividers to separate each section. Clearly label each
section. Please see the instructor if you prefer to submit your handbook in another format (e.g.,
Power Point, Word, etc.).
Cover. Design a cover for your Family handbook that is inviting. LENGTH: 1 PAGE
Table of contents. Place a table of contents at the beginning of your notebook. LENGTH
Letters of Welcome. Write a letter of welcome to the target families. Things to think
about include: What types of information will these families be most interested in
receiving? What writing style should you use? How detailed should your letter be? Be
sure to include a brief orientation to the handbook. Also write a letter of welcome to the
children of the target families [in a potential classroom]. Remember to make this letter
age-appropriate and respectful of all skill levels represented in your classroom.
FAMILY LETTER: 1 PAGE. CHILD LETTER: 1 PAGE.
Family Involvement Philosophy. Write your philosophy of family involvement.
Remember to keep it short and use language that reflects your target audience. Consider
this your first draft. You will want to review your philosophy each year. PAGE
LIMIT: 1 page.
School and Classroom Information. To complete this section, you must either: (a) use a
real school/classroom that you currently work/volunteer, (b) use a real classroom that you
completed a practicum experience, or (c) create a fictitious school/school to complete this
section. In this section of your handbook, you will:
Provide families with information about your school and classroom.
Include the following information: (a) contact information for key personnel, (b)
school holidays and other major events; (c) your daily class schedule, and (d)
some fun or interesting facts about your school or classroom.
Do not use real names when listing school contacts. Likewise, do not use
acronyms in any part of this section, as some families may not understand their
meaning. Spell everything out. Finally, remember to provide a brief and simple
explanation of anything (e.g., “specials”) that families might not understand.
PAGE LIMIT: 3 pages.
Classroom Profile. Provide families with a “blueprint” (i.e., graphic) of your classroom.
Label each center or area. Summarize the learning objectives associated with the different
learning centers. Give concrete examples of children’s activities in the centers to help
families see the connection between their children’s work and the associated educational
objectives. If using an actual classroom and your classroom does/did not have learning
centers, you will need to create five age-appropriate learning centers that you would
place in your classroom. PAGE LIMIT: 4 pages.
Behavior Management Guide. Reflect upon your coursework and your classroom
preservice observations and experiences. Summarize your philosophy of behavior
management. Give a few examples of how this philosophy relates to the actual behavior
management practices that you use/see in your classroom. PAGE LIMIT: 1 page.
Family-Teacher Communication. Provide families with an explanation of how you plan
to communicate with them about classroom activities and their children’s classroom
performance. Remember the three “Es” (effectiveness, efficiency, and equity) as you
develop this section. Think creatively while at the same time not promising more than
you can reasonably deliver. PAGE LIMIT: 1 page.
Family Resource Guide. Develop a listing of key community resources (e.g., educational,
health, social services) that might be of interest to the families in your classroom. This
will require some community investigative work. Provide basic contact information (e.g.,
telephone numbers, URLs, email addresses), as appropriate. Also provide a brief
description (one short paragraph) of the mission and/or services provided by each
resource in your listing. PAGE LIMIT: 3 pages.
Family Survey. Include a copy of a family survey that you might use in planning for
family involvement in your classroom. Consider the backgrounds of families in your
classroom when developing the survey. Begin with a brief statement as to the purpose of
the survey. Make the survey inviting. PAGE LIMIT: 2 pages (1 page is better, if you
want a good response rate)
Reflections: Provide a brief reflection of your thoughts about your Family handbook.
What were some of the biggest challenges you faced when developing your handbook?
What insights and/or surprising facts did you find while working on your handbook? Are
these certain sections that you will definitely use or not use when you develop your own
handbook? Explain? PAGE LIMIT: 1 page.
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