Don’t Mention the Rain

My eldest son started school this month. It’s been a big change for us but don’t worry, I’m not going to bore you with all the details. I mention it only because we had our first newsletter sent home in the book bag.

This newsletter made me realise that some people don’t give a moment’s thought to who’ll be reading their words and what emotions those words will provoke.

The newsletter began:

Once again the weather during the break did not live up to expectations and the autumn already seems to have set in, nonetheless I hope that you all had a restful and enjoyable summer break.

Let’s gloss over the poor sentence structure and look at the content. We’ve just witnessed the incredible success of London 2012, and they choose to lead with how bad the weather’s been. Never mind Inspire a Generation; this school is going for Depress a Generation. Bizarre!

Now most parents will probably scan the newsletter for important information and then chuck it in the bin. But those that read the entire thing may be left a little worried about the negative attitude it conveys.

I’ve entrusted my son to these people for thirty-two and a half hours a week, and they introduce themselves by moaning about the weather?

And they hope I’ve had a restful and enjoyable break? It was enjoyable, yes, but restful?  Does anyone with young children have a restful break? From this one sentence the author makes it clear that they haven’t really thought about who their audience is and how they want to come across to that audience.

I know that as a writer I have a tendency to over-analyse everything I read, but I think most parents would like their children to be taught by enthusiastic, positively minded people who know how to construct a sentence.

So when you’re writing your next newsletter, don’t put down any old thing as your opening sentence.  Have a think about how you want to come across.  Do you want to moan about the weather or do you want to celebrate success?

Thought so.