Most schools reach the 100th day of school around the end of January or beginning of February. Here are four ways to help students, staff and parents celebrate this big day:

  1. Encourage students to make and wear shirts that have 100 items on them. This is a fun family activity. They can use fabric markers to draw on shirts, or attach items like safety pins, googly eyes, etc.
  2. Have students make predictions about what life will be like 100 years from now.
  3. Challenge students to make top-100 lists. They can write down 100 reasons why they like school, 100 things they’ve learned this year or 100 things they would like to accomplish.
  4. Host a 100-day reading contest.  Who can read the most books in the next 100 days?

 

Remind families about the importance of school attendance

Student attendance in many districts starts to drop off around this time of year. But some schools have found effective ways to communicate with parents about the importance of making sure their children are in school. To promote attendance:

  • Distribute your attendance policy. Print and distribute wallet-sized cards with the basics of the policy.
  • Encourage two-way communication. In addition to asking parents to report absences, make sure school staff inform parents as quickly as possible if their child misses class.
  • Celebrate perfect attendance. Print up special forms or cards to send home to families of students with 100% attendance each marking period.
  • Share facts and figures. Include articles about the importance of attendance in your school newsletter and on your website.

 

did-you-know  Did You Know?

Each year, HazingPrevention.Org and the National Federation of State High School Associations sponsor a high school essay contest. Hundreds of high school students from across the country enter original essays on a hazing-related topic. The topic for 2018 is “Rise up, Band Together & Stomp out Hazing.” The contest in open to all high school students in the United States and runs from January 1 to April 30. For more details visit http://hazingprevention.org/home/awardsandgrants/high-school-essay-contest.

 

Quote of the Day

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“Ensuring success for all students is a monumentally important task that requires the cooperation of those with the greatest influence in children’s lives—parents and teachers.”

Source: “Engaging Parents in Education: Lessons from Five Parental Information and Resource Centers,” U.S. Department of Education.

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School leaders have an enormous influence on the people around them—staff members, teachers, students and parents. The start of a new calendar year is the perfect time to recommit to maintaining a positive school environment for everyone. Here are three simple steps you can take right now:

  1. Remember to smile. A smile can put staff members and students at ease. It can also reduce the tension and stress that sometimes creeps into the school building.
  2. Greet students every morning. Whether you help students get off the bus or give high-fives to students as they enter the building, don’t underestimate the importance of your presence. It shows students you care.
  3. Shift your language. Replace the word “can’t” with the phrase “is learning to.” For example, rather than saying “Maddie can’t control herself,” say “Maddie is learning to control herself.” This subtle change reminds students, staff and parents that your school is a place of learning and development.

 

Try a volunteer fair

If your school is looking for a way to attract more volunteers, consider hosting a volunteer fair. It’s an easy way to reach parents who are thinking about getting more involved. Have school groups and organizations set up table displays to highlight their activities and volunteer needs. Make sure people will be available to answer specific questions and have volunteer forms available for parents to fill out. This activity is most effective when it is held in conjunction with an event that typically attracts a lot of parents, such as a curriculum night, a school performance or an athletic event.

 

photo-of-the-day  Photo of the Day

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A child wearing a bear fur costume yawns during a parade of new year's rituals in Comanesti, northern Romania, Saturday, Dec. 30, 2017. The tradition, originating in pre-Christian times, when dancers wearing colored costumes or animal furs, went from house to house in villages singing and dancing to ward off evil, has moved to Romania's cities, where dancers travel to perform the ritual for money. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

 

 

 

   

Your school’s website is a valuable tool for providing students and their families with important information. Is it as effective as it can be? Ask yourself these questions:

  1. Is it mobile friendly? Be sure your content is easy to read on mobile devices. According to Google, there are now more searches on mobile devices than on desktop computers.
  2. Is it easy to navigate? Make sure content is organized so parents can quickly locate the information they are looking for.
  3. Does it contain images? Include photos of school staff and students having fun and learning. Seeing the faces of faculty can foster a sense of familiarity and trust with parents.
  4. Is it easy to read? Use headlines and bullet points, when possible, to make information easy to scan. Make sure the layout is uncluttered and simple. Don’t try to cram too much content on your homepage.
  5. Is it up-to-date? Make sure someone at your school has the ability to add content and update information. There is no reason for a parent to return to your site if the content never changes!

 

Recharge your batteries over the break

The winter break is right around the corner. You may have a lot of holiday plans, but it’s also important to take time to do some things to ensure that you return to school refreshed, renewed and energized. To make the most of your break, plan to:

  • Reflect on the year to date. What has gone well? What hasn’t? What would you like to change? What could be fine-tuned? Make some notes about the things you will change or do differently when you return from the break.
  • Spend time getting organized. Are there things you can do now that will make the remainder of the school year go more smoothly? If so, plan to tackle a few items over the break.
  • Take time for yourself. Do some things you haven’t had time for during the school year. Read that novel you’ve been wanting to read. Go for a walk. Sleep in. Catch up with old friends.

 

did-you-know  Did You Know?

Over the last four years, reading achievement has declined among America’s fourth-graders, both in terms of the average score as well as in comparison to their peers around the world. The United States ranks 16 out of 58 educational systems for reading performance. The top five: Moscow City, Russia, Singapore, Hong Kong and Ireland.

–Source: International Reading Literacy Study, 2016

 

Quote of the Day

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“Growth is never by mere chance; it is the result of forces working together.”

James Cash Penney

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Teachers have little time to devote to explicit instruction in homework and study skills. This is where parents can help! The support and guidance they provide at home can make all the difference in a student’s academic success. Consider hosting a workshop or meeting for parents to help them support their children’s learning. Be sure to include:

  • Your school’s homework policy. Review your policy and procedures and pass out copies for parents to keep as a reference throughout the year. Encourage parents to contact individual teachers to learn about grade- and subject-specific policies as well.
  • General information about the importance of homework and study skills. Offer strategies for parents on helping students with organization, time management, responsibility, test preparation, listening, note-taking, persistence and more.
  • A guided discussion. Ask participants to share situations that are challenging for them. Encourage parents to offer tips and strategies that work well for them and their children. Parent-to-parent tips can be very effective.

 

Use social media to increase parent engagement

Improve parent engagement by using the same social media parents and families are already using! Create a Facebook page or Twitter account for your school. Then post or tweet:

  • Invitations, updates and reminders about school events.
  • Positive news about students and school staff.
  • Volunteer opportunities for students and/or parents.
  • Short updates from school meetings.
  • Photos from school activities or events.

 

photo-of-the-day  Photo of the Day

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Scholarship Surprise: Central Cambria High School senior Kate Griffith reacts with her father Scott after Liz Robinson, Vice President of Sallie Mae, announced that Kate has won one of five $25,000 scholarships, during a break from practicing with the All Band Festival at Johnstown Bishop McCort auditorium in Johnstown, Pa., Thursday, Nov. 30, 2017. (Todd Berkey/The Tribune-Democrat via AP)

 

 

 

   

Parents can provide valuable insights into home life and other areas of students’ lives. And understanding the strategies parents use to address challenges at home can provide teachers with additional tools to use at school. Encourage teachers to tap into parent wisdom and ask questions, such as:

  • What are some strategies that have helped your child educationally in the past? Why do you think they have been successful?
  • What is your child passionate about?
  • How does your child spend her free time?
  • Does your child display anxiety at home?
  • How much time does your child spend on homework? Are family members home to provide support during homework time?

 

Reach out to preschools to connect with rising kindergartners

Supporting families as they start thinking about the transition from preschool to kindergarten will help them feel more motivated and confident. To reach families of rising kindergartners, form relationships with local preschools. By working together, you can make sure students get off to a great start!

  1. Ensure continuity of the curriculum. Meet with local preschools and share your kindergarten curriculum. Allow preschool teachers to observe or work in the kindergarten classroom. Encourage kindergarten teachers to observe preschool classes, too.
  2. Help preschool and kindergarten staff get connected. Schedule visits to help administrators and teachers get to know one another. Coordinate registration and other events with the preschool. Stay in touch with preschools throughout the year.
  3. Prepare students. Invite preschool classes to visit the school. Children might take tours, eat in the cafeteria and visit with kindergartners. Send photos of the event home with students.
  4. Involve parents. Give parents information about how to ensure their children’s success. Include details they want most, such as kindergarten routines, dress codes and tips for handling first-day jitters.

 

did-you-know  Did You Know?

Research shows that kindergarten transition activities have a positive effect on student achievement and parent involvement in school. These findings are especially pronounced in students from low-income families.

–Source: J. LoCasale-Crouch and others, “Pre-kindergarten Teachers’ Use of Transition Practices and Children’s Adjustment to Kindergarten,” Early Childhood Research Quarterly; and A. Schulting and others, “The Effect of School-Based Kindergarten Transition Policies and Practices on Child Academic Outcomes,” Developmental Psychology.

 

Quote of the Day

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“At the end of the day, the most overwhelming key to a child's success is the positive involvement of parents.”

Jane D. Hull

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