‘It’s your birthday!’ and other happy things

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Written by Paige DeLozier


At TalkingPoints, we believe that family engagement must include positive interactions.

Dr. Karen Mapp, America’s foremost expert on family engagement, explains how making families feel welcome and giving them a positive experience first is crucial to building a trusting relationship that will last.


Let’s talk about a few specific ways to bring some positivity into the mix!

A birthday surprise

It can be difficult to begin personalizing things for students before you’ve met them. But what if we told you that’s the perfect time to start?

As soon as rosters come out, teachers can start scheduling messages to families in TalkingPoints. Let’s start with birthdays. One of the best ways to make someone, especially a child, feel seen is by recognizing them on their birthday. That’s exactly what Michigan teacher Lisa Briegel does every year before a single birthday comes around.



How does she manage that? She simply schedules the birthday messages in her TalkingPoints account when she gets her roster. Then, throughout the year, families receive their sweet messages and kids get a little extra attention.

We love this tip because it’s a pretty easy way to be sure you are sending a special surprise to each student’s family. Work smarter, not harder, right?

Making the grade

Of course families want to hear about missing assignments and slipping course grades. Those are the red flags they expect. But what about the green flags?


  • a photo of a passing grade on a weekly test
  • a short video of their child working hard with their group
  • an encouraging message about their student’s progress towards a goal
Any of these could make the difference for a parent who is feeling discouraged about their child’s success. Consider making these messages part of your routine. That way, when the difficult conversations come around, families aren’t already expecting the worst.

Beyond academics

Some students’ goals are less academically-focused and families have a hard time tracking their progress. They don’t get to see them interacting with other children on a daily basis like teachers do.

Sharing check-ins and updates around students’ social goals like these can be enlightening for families.

A simple “thank you”

Who doesn’t love recognition? Families are no exception.
Sending the occasional message or announcement thanking parents and family members for their support could do wonders for the family-school partnership. Whether messages focus on homework help, participation, or simply getting to school on time, families will be grateful for the acknowledgement.

Share your positivity

As an educator working hard to build purposeful, enduring relationships, what are some creative ways you’ve found to connect positively with families? We would love to hear your ideas! Share with us on social media.

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