Parent involvement is critical to student success in school. Yet many teachers still have no formal training in working with families. When planning your next teacher staff development session, consider including skill training on strategies to improve collaboration among teachers and parents. Show teachers how to:

  • Conduct parent interviews. What to say to parents to elicit meaningful responses.
  • Design a parent involvement plan. How to design a year’s worth of activities with parents that support student learning.
  • Develop a parent involvement notebook. How to start gathering resources and ideas for working with parents—where to go and whom to ask for ideas that work!
  • Learn from parents. What do parents think about school involvement? How can teachers help parents maximize their efforts?
  • Understand families from diverse cultural backgrounds. How to communicate respect and acceptance. 

 

graphic image of the benefits of training

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Connect with parents virtually

Before the coronavirus pandemic, most schools provided parenting information through workshops, meetings or classes. Now schools must get creative to promote involvement and keep families safe. Consider sharing information with parents in new ways, such as:

  • An audio recording that parents can listen to as they commute to and from work.
  • A video that parents can watch on a smartphone, tablet or computer.
  • A collection of articles that parents can download from your school’s website or social media site.

did-you-know  Did You Know?

According to a new survey of public-school parents conducted by the National Parents Union, 38% are worried that their children are learning less this school year than they would during a normal school year.

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When the lines of communication are open between teachers, students and parents, everyone wins. Students become more motivated to learn, have better attendance and more positive attitudes. Teacher-parent relationships are especially important during pandemic learning conditions. Ask teachers to:

  • Communicate with parents regularly. Send home weekly updates to let parents know what’s going on in class. Parents feel like partners when they are kept in the loop.
  • Ask parents to contribute. Send home a questionnaire to find out about parents’ cultural traditions, interests, skills and knowledge. Invite them to share information with the class in person or virtually, when it connects with something being taught. Parents feel valued when they are asked to contribute.

 

we are stronger together graphic

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Boost social and emotional learning

Social-emotional learning (SEL) has a clear connection to academic performance and students’ mental health. Whether students are learning in person or virtually, teachers can help them navigate these uncertain times. Encourage teachers to: .

  • Begin each class with a warm, personal greeting.
  • Engage students in partner work and group projects.
  • Play games that build a sense of community.
  • Give students lots of opportunities to talk and share ideas.
  • Teach students strategies for resolving conflicts.
  • Encourage students to set personal and academic goals.

did-you-know  Did You Know?

October is National Principals Month! Let your voice be heard this month to honor, thank and advocate for all principals. #ThankAPrincipal for their hard work and dedication.

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Schools know that parents have an enormous impact on their children’s academic success. And while most parents value education, they don’t always realize that what they do (or don’t do) determines whether or not their children will be successful in school—especially in pandemic learning conditions.

Remind parents that they are an important piece of the puzzle. Host virtual events and share information online to:

  • Show parents how to be actively involved in their children’s education.
  • Help parents understand the important role they play in their children’s success in school.
  • Encourage parents to become partners in their children’s education through elementary school and beyond.

 

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Involve parents in math education

When teachers connect directly with parents and help them become engaged in their children’s math education, everyone wins. Encourage teachers to:

  1. Summarize the math concepts students are learning. Use family-friendly language and include practical examples.
  2. Inform parents that current math content and instruction will look different from the math they had in school.
  3. Share math resources, such as websites and apps, that parents can explore with their children.
  4. Provide ideas about how parents can support their children with math assignments.
  5. Remind parents that they are not expected to be the teacher and reteach or explain concepts.
  6. Encourage parents to contact them with questions and concerns. Communication is key!

did-you-know  Did You Know?

October is Positive Attitude Month! According to research, having a positive attitude leads to:

  • Longer life span due to lower stress levels.
  • Lower chance of depression.
  • Increased physical and mental well-being.
  • More developed coping skills during challenges.

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Students are spending more and more time on digital platforms—for school and for socializing. Experts fear that with that increased time online, students who are prone to bullying are likely to turn to cyberbully.

     In fact, according to an April 2020 report published by L1ght, a technology startup that helps detect and filter abusive and toxic content online, hate speech between kids on social media and in chat forums increased 70% when students transitioned to distance learning.

     Talk to students about the importance of digital citizenship. Share tips with families for monitoring technology use and make sure students know that your school has a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to bullying—in person and online.

 

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Weave the topic of bullying into class lessons

October is National Bullying Prevention Month. Here are several ways teachers of all subjects can incorporate the topic of bullying into existing lessons:

  • Language arts—Have students read books containing themes of bullying for book reports or class discussions.
  • Social studies—Ask students to brainstorm events in history that were the result of bullying on a global scale (such as the Holocaust). How does bullying relate to minority groups and the Civil Rights Movement?
  • Math—Have students anonymously complete a survey about their experiences with bullying. Then, students can chart the results of the survey.
  • Art—Have students create bullying prevention posters.
  • Technology—Discuss the seriousness of cyberbullying and the importance of digital citizenship.

did-you-know  Did You Know?

“Parents, school staff, and other adults in the community can help kids prevent bullying by talking about it, building a safe school environment, and creating a community-wide bullying prevention strategy.”

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

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While many parents have questions about how best to help their children with assignments, bilingual parents often wonder which language they should use to provide that help. Many parents who speak English as a second language want their children to learn English as quickly as possible. They believe that the best way to make that happen is to provide all instruction (including help with homework) in English.

Researchers say this is not the case, however. According to the experts, students who become proficient in their native language first are more likely to then become proficient in English.

Encourage parents to work with their children in their native language and explain why that is important. Then, provide them with the same clear suggestions that you would provide to any English-speaking parent. (If possible, identify other parents in your school who can serve as informal mentors to bilingual parents.)

 

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Keeping students and staff safe

As schools take steps to safely reopen schools, the Centers for Disease Control has developed four strategies for K-12 school administrators to use in order to protect students, teachers and staff:

  1. Promote behaviors that reduce the spread of COVID-19.
  2. Preserve healthy environments.
  3. Maintain healthy operations.
  4. Prepare for when someone gets sick.

Schools should work with state and local health officials to determine how to implement each of these considerations and adjust them to meet the specific needs of their local community. Download a copy of the CDC’s Considerations for K-12 Schools: Readiness and Planning Tool at niswc.com/SACF_CDC.

did-you-know  Did You Know?

55 million K-12 students are out of school nationwide due to the coronavirus pandemic—and 9.7 million of them lack reliable internet service at home.

Data Bridge K-12

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