A recent study published in the Journal of Educational Psychology confirms what most educators already know: School bullying is linked to lower academic achievement. So, what makes this particular study unique? It’s the first long-term study on bullying, tracking the academic achievement of students from kindergarten through high school. The results revealed that some victims of bullying can bounce back academically—if the bullying decreases throughout their school years. Researchers found that students who experienced:

  • Chronic bullying throughout their school years had lower academic achievement, a greater dislike of school and less confidence in their academic abilities.
  • Moderate bullying that increased later in their school years had low academic achievement—similar to students who were chronically bullied.
  • Decreasing bullying throughout their school years had fewer academic problems—similar to students who had experienced little or no bullying.

These findings strengthen the case for comprehensive K-12 bullying prevention programs. They also provide a glimmer of hope. When efforts to reduce bullying are successful, students can get a second chance at academic success.

 

Create a welcoming school environment

Sometimes parents are reluctant to get involved with their child’s school because they don’t feel welcome. They may perceive a staff member who is simply very busy as being unfriendly. They may be put off by the physical appearance of the school building. Or, they may not know where to go once they enter the building.

To make sure your school environment is welcoming:

  • Provide training for all staff—from teachers to custodians—in how to communicate with parents. Make sure staff members understand that parents should be treated with respect.
  • Post welcome signs at each entrance to your building and on each classroom door. Use all the languages spoken by students’ parents. Also post a map or provide directions to the front office.
  • Take time to explain the reasons behind “unpopular policies” or important security measures, such as passes for visitors.

 

Quote of the Day

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“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”

Winston Churchill

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Studies consistently show that a positive home environment contributes to student success at school. That’s why it’s important for schools to share information about effective discipline with parents.

  • A structured home life promotes school success. Regular schedules and routines, such as scheduled homework time, bedtime and meals, help children develop the independence and self-discipline they need to succeed in school.
  • Discipline is about teaching. Punishment does not teach children what they should do; it merely attempts to stop negative behaviors. Effective discipline begins with establishing clear rules and consequences—and enforcing them consistently. It also helps to acknowledge and praise children’s positive behavior.
  • Children perform better when they know what is expected of them. When parents set high, yet reasonable expectations, children are more likely to meet them.

 

 

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Focus on student attitudes for school success

A recent Stanford University study of elementary school students found that when students had positive attitudes toward math, an important memory/learning center in their brains functioned better, resulting in stronger math performance. What’s even more interesting is that student attitudes had as much of an impact on their math achievement as their IQs did!

Researchers believe that teachers can maximize student learning capacities by nurturing positive attitudes in all subject areas. Encourage teachers to:

  • Share their passion for the subjects they teach.
  • Instill the belief in students that they can master any and every subject.
  • Provide meaningful feedback with a focus on what students did right.

While a positive attitude doesn’t guarantee achievement in a subject, it certainly opens the door!

 

did-you-know  Did You Know?

In a typical elementary school classroom, students are distracted more than 25% of the time. The two main sources of distraction are heavily-decorated classrooms and instructional lessons that last longer than 10 minutes at a time.

Source: K.E.Godwin and others, “Off-task behavior in elementary school children,” Learning and Instruction.

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Everyone needs to eat in the morning. So why not invite families to a grade-level math breakfast? Provide activities that focus on skills and concepts being taught in the classroom. Moms and dads can drop in on their way to work. What a great way to start the day! For a successful event:

  • Have each student design an invitation and decorate it with a favorite breakfast food.
  • Plan to offer beverages such as juice, milk, coffee and water. Limit food to finger foods such as bagels, donuts, muffins, breakfast bars and bananas.
  • Place a variety of math activities at each table. Include activities that relate to the math standards students are striving to meet. Include clear instructions and have students take the lead. This allows them to explain concepts and skills to parents.
  • Distribute activity sheets to parents so they can continue reinforcing math skills at home.
  • Collect data from your event (amount of food consumed, number of parents who attended, etc.) for use in math skills development—in the classroom or for homework with parents.

 

Parent communication can reduce teachers’ stress

Teaching is a stress-filled job. One proven way to reduce that stress is for teachers and parents to work together. Consistent communication with parents can help teachers:

  1. Save time. Sure, communicating with parents requires an investment of time. Sending out a weekly newsletter that describes classroom activities and spells out homework assignments will take some time. But teachers who do it say it saves them time in the long run, by keeping everyone on the same page and cutting down on the time they have to spend answering questions and addressing complaints.
  2. Reduce classroom conflicts. Asking parents to provide input on their child’s performance through phone calls, written comments or during conferences can make it easier for teachers to design classroom activities that meet the needs of their students. By helping all students do their best, teachers are able to keep them focused on class activities.
  3. Decrease the odds of a parent confrontation. Some teachers avoid communicating with parents because they want to avoid confrontations. In fact, it has the opposite effect—parents who don’t hear from a teacher until there’s trouble on the horizon are more likely to start out angry.

 

did-you-know  Did You Know?

Parent engagement activities—such as parent workshops, math activities in school, math nights, classroom newsletters and math progress reports—improve parent support for school and family partnerships. This results in a higher percentage of students proficient in math on state achievement tests.

–Source: S.B. Sheldon and others, “Not Just Numbers: Creating a Partnership Climate to Improve Math Proficiency in Schools,”
Leadership and Policy in School

 

Quote of the Day

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“Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.”

Henry Ford

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Children become stronger readers when their parents help them with reading skills at home. But many parents—especially those with limited English skills or low literacy themselves—don’t always know how to help. Consider hosting a series of parent literacy workshops to give parents techniques to use when helping their children with reading.

  • Focus on a specific skill during each session—how to read with children, how to use the library, how to segment and blend words, etc.
  • Distribute handouts outlining additional literacy activities and techniques parents can try with their children at home.
  • Provide incentives. Each time parents attend, give them a paperback book to bring home and share with their children. See if a local business would be willing to donate books.

 

 

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Boost parent attendance at school events

Want to improve parent attendance at school meetings and events? Try these six strategies:

  1. Shorten events. If parents know that an event will take only an hour, they may be more likely to attend.
  2. Promote connections. Parents of students are eager to meet other parents. Parents who feel comfortable talking with at least two other parents at the school are much more likely to participate.
  3. Give plenty of notice. Communicate dates for meetings and events early and often. If possible, post the schedule for the year on your website, on take-home folders, in your school newsletter, etc.
  4. Get parents’ attention. An invitation handmade by their child is always a hit.
  5. Use technology. Invite parents through social media, automated phone calls, emails and text messages.
  6. Translate everything. Students of parents who don’t speak English are at risk of not attending school events. So, it’s especially important to translate invitations and handouts. Recruit bilingual parents to help.

 

did-you-know  Did You Know?

Parent engagement activities—such as parent workshops, math activities in school, math nights, classroom newsletters and math progress reports—improve parent support for school and family partnerships. This results in a higher percentage of students proficient in math on state achievement tests.

S.B. Sheldon and others, “Not Just Numbers: Creating a Partnership Climate to Improve Math Proficiency in Schools,”
Leadership and Policy in School.

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Many parents who have taken an active role in their children’s education in elementary school seem to “drop out” when their children move into the middle grades. Yet parent involvement is just as important for students to succeed at this level. According to parent involvement experts Anne Henderson and Karen Mapp, students with involved parents:

  • Earn higher grades and score higher on tests.
  • Enroll in higher-level classes (such as algebra).
  • Pass their classes and move on to the next grade level.
  • Attend school more regularly.
  • Display better social skills.
  • Graduate and go on to college.

 

Involve parents in social-emotional learning

Social-emotional learning (SEL) has a clear connection to academic performance. That’s why more and more schools are implementing SEL initiatives in their classrooms and communities. Parent awareness and support can make these initiatives even more effective.

  • Open up a dialogue. Bring together a group of parents and students to talk about the social and emotional skills that students need to be successful in today’s society. Then gradually expand the group. Involve community organizations like the Boys and Girls Clubs or the local YMCA or YWCA. Ask law enforcement officials to share their experience.
  • Take small steps. Invite guest speakers to talk to parents about the social and emotional needs of their children. Organize support groups for parents.
  • Design a community-based program to meet your community’s needs. Whether it’s promoting character education or designing safe after-school activities, involve local political and business leaders as well as parents.

 

did-you-know  Did You Know?

According to The Education Market Association, teachers spend $500 of their own money on classroom supplies each school year.

 

Quote of the Day

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“Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.”

Mark Twain

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