Using Letters Home to Continue Your Counseling ConnectionsHow just a few minutes a day can help change lives in little ways.
I bet you have 10 minutes a day….
That’s right. You do have 10 minutes a day. Likely more if you really looked hard, but we will go with 10 minutes. What would you say if I told you that 10 minutes was all it could take to make a huge difference (or even just a little) in a few kids lives each day you are in your office? You’d probably jump right on that bandwagon. Well – it’s possible and I’ve experienced it. Are you curious now?
Writing is a key we often do not use.
At the 2017 California Association of School Counselors conference in Riverside, CA – I popped into a solution focused session by two of the better breakout session speakers I know – Arond Schonberg and Keith Fulthrop. They were giving information (which was awesome and I use almost every day now) on utilizing a solution focused approach in our school counseling offices and shared something that likely slipped by a lot of people but was one of the big AH HA moments for me that day. So this awesome tool I will write about I cannot take credit for, but I sure do want to share it with you.
Make a point to write 2-3 letters per day.
As I meet with students and parents or review data – I often find things I notice that do not always make it’s way to students. Or I will have met with a student and want to remind them of their goal or focus a few days later. One addition I have made this year is to spend about 10 minutes a day (not always at one time) to write short notes home to students. I try to highlight things we discussed, gains they have made or improvements I have noticed (big or small). I also always ask them to let me know what is working or how they did that and that I am always available to help. Each letter takes only 2-3 minutes to write, address and stuff in the mail bag. They are not lengthly or jammed with content – just a quick note. I make a point to mail it to the student, but there is high likelihood that the parent will read it too.
In Linda Metcalf’s book Counseling Toward Solutions – she has a small section also mentioning sending quick notes home following sessions. She references that others have mentioned that sending a note home is “worth six visits of counseling in terms of influencing the school client to see himself or herself differently” (page 39).
The images below give a few examples of what my letters may look like. Please ignore my very poor handwriting and you can click the image to zoom in.
You could catch some great items on Amazon too to help with your project if you want to spice up your letters. Check out these awesome note cards:
The anecdotal data.
I do not have any quantitative or longitudinal data (if you do this – please sound off in the comments below) backing this up, but my anecdotal and qualitative experience is that these notes make a strong impact. I have written less than 100 this year (and I do not do this for EVERY meeting I have) so far, but I have had students tell me how much it meant to them to get it it home, that their parents really appreciated getting to read it too in the instance of a family loss, and super touching email from a parent who shared just how meaningful one note was to a student who stood up for another student in class.
I know that not all notes I send will be a eye opening or solve situations for students, but I do know that it provides another point of encouragement, another reminder to keep the eye on the prize, and an easy way to continue the conversation.
So with that – I challenge you to get writing!
Do you or have you started writing letters home to students? Please let me know how that is going for you! I want stories!!