I don't know how common it is, but our dismissal system is one that I don't actually see most of my parents who are coming to pick up their kiddos on a daily basis. The students go to different areas based on how they get home and each member of our team is at a different location with all the students from that grade level.
Because of this, I feel disconnected from them sometimes. I can e-mail updates to those who have provided me e-mail addresses and I do updates on our class website. But I miss that connection. There are things that happen day-to-day that I'd like to share with them. So I was sitting in a training a few years ago and they were talking about dialogue journals for students to communicate with each other and a lightbulb went off over my head....dialogue journals for the parents!
So every Friday I send home a journal with a little note-it can be an anecdote-your child said something that made me laugh. It can be a comment on something the child made in class. If I have nothing specific to relate, then I can just talk about some class activities we did that week. Sometimes I include pictures. It's all positive. I encourage them to respond and ask any questions they might not want to bother me with through e-mail.
I think it's been successful. I've done it for 2 years now. I'd say 50% of the parents respond regularly, another maybe 10% where the kids say they do read it every week, just may not feel comfortable or have time to respond. I wait for the composition books to go on sale at Target or Wal-Mart-usually you can catch them 2 for $1.00. And the only other thing it costs me is time. I take some home each day starting on Wednesday and it doesn't take too long to scribe out a message in each one. Worth the effort to me to make that connection.
Anyway, just wanted to share an idea that I've found to be helpful in continuing that all-important relationships with parents throughout the school year!