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How School-Home Notes Help Your Interventions

Frontline

Managing a classroom full of 2nd graders is challenging enough. Finding effective, practical intervention strategies that successfully address problem behaviors of younger students? That can prove especially difficult. With a team approach, though, teachers and families can work together to help every student improve behavior, stay focused in the classroom and succeed academically.

School-home notes, whereby a teacher sends home a daily note rating a student’s school behaviors, engage families as partners in addressing behavior at school (Jurbergs, Palcic, & Kelley, 2007). Based on each report, a family provides or withholds home rewards to encourage positive student behavior. As a secondary benefit, school-home notes strengthen communication between teachers and families in general.

How can schools and families adopt this effective strategy? By following the guidelines below, implementing a school-home note program is easy and cost-effective.

  Preparation.

  1. Select target behaviors. The teacher and family decide on 2-4 behaviors to track through the school-home note, identifying positive behaviors they want to foster that ‘replace’ existing, problematic ones. One target behavior for a child, for example, might be “The student followed teacher requests.”
  2. Design a school-home note. The teacher and parent design a note identifying target behaviors. While any rating format may be used, a simple version may be best–e.g., Yes (2 pts)…So-So (1 pt)…No (0 pts).
  3. Decide on the cut-point for an acceptable daily school-home note rating. The family and teacher decide on the minimum daily points that the child must earn on the school-home note to be eligible to earn a reward.
  4. Develop a reinforcer menu. Based on a knowledge of the child, the family develops a reinforcer (‘reward’) menu containing 4-8 reward choices. Whenever the student attains a positive rating on the school-home note, he or she can select a reward from this menu.

  Implementation.

  1. Rate the student’s school behavior. At the conclusion of the school day, the teacher rates the student’s behavior on the school-home note. The teacher meets briefly with the student to share feedback about the ratings and offers praise (if the ratings are positive) or encouragement (if the ratings are below expectations).
  2. Send the completed school-home note to the family. The teacher communicates the school-home note results in a manner agreed upon in advance, e.g., in the student’s backpack, via email or a voicemail report.
  3. Provide the home reward. The family reviews the most recent school-home note with the child. If the child attained the minimum rating, the family provides praise and allows the student to select a reward from the reinforcer menu. If the student failed to reach the rating goal, the family withholds the reward but offers encouragement.

  Maintenance.

  1. Refresh the reinforcer menu. Every 2 to 3 weeks, the family should update the reinforcer menu with the child to ensure that the reward choices continue to motivate.
  2. Raise the school-home note goal. Whenever the student has attained success on the school-home note on most or all days for a full 2 weeks, the teacher and family should consider raising the student point goal incrementally.

 


References
Jurbergs, N., Palcic, J., & Kelley, M. L. (2007). School-home notes with and without response cost: Increasing attention and academic performance in low-income children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. School Psychology Quarterly, 22, 358-379.

Jim Wright

Jim Wright is a highly-acclaimed national presenter, trainer and author on topics that cover the essentials and beyond of Response to Intervention and Multi-Tiered System of Supports. He has worked for 17 years in public education as a school psychologist and school administrator. Jim has published "The RTI Toolkit: A Practical Guide for Schools" and is the creator of the InterventionCentral.org website.