Are you writing instructions for families? Consider these tips.

As teachers and school staff continue to create digital assignments and send home more written instructions to families, it is important to write clearly and simply so that families interpret the message as intended.

The National Center for Families Learning (NCFL) has guidance to help you get the message across. Consider these tips while drafting instructions:

Keep the look basic.

Use a large font and create white space. Use one or two basic fonts that are easy to read like Arial, Calibri, or Times New Roman. Put the most important information in bold type. 

Use graphics to help illustrate content; but avoid decorations, which can be distracting rather than helpful.

Write simply. 

Use only as much text as necessary to get information across. Include short sentences and bullet points. Give an example to clarify a point.

Write out acronyms and avoid jargon. Families may not be familiar with educational or district terminology.

Strive to be inclusive.

Try to write below a sixth-grade reading level. Use families and family members rather than parents, mothers, or fathers. Avoid idioms and phrases that are open to different interpretations. Remember some readers will take what you have written literally. 

Consider translating materials using Google Translate or other online tools.

Before sending to families, review your writing.

Use online tools to check for readability. Websites, such as Pro Writing Aid, will scan your writing for grammar, spelling, and jargon while also calculating a variety of readability statistics. 

If possible, ask others to review your materials.

It is important to remember that not all families in your class have the same reading level and subject background knowledge. Using these tips will help you create instructions that are clear, concise, and inclusive.

As you navigate and establish a new normal, remember that NCFL is here to support you and the families you serve. 

Is there a topic you need more help with? Could you use more support or resources for online learning? Comment below to share your thoughts.