Parents are often looking for ways to support their children’s learning over the summer. Family learning kits can help families do just that. Here are some tips:

  • Collect everything parents need to conduct engaging learning activities in boxes or bags. Include items such as videos, books, conversation starters, games, craft items and other materials to support positive parent-child interactions. Ask local businesses to donate materials that could be used in kits.
  • Organize kits by grade level and theme (animals, everyday math, famous scientists, crafts).
  • Schedule drive-up pick-up/drop-off times. Families can check out the kits and return them to the school when they have completed the activities. Once kits have been restocked and sanitized, they can be checked out by other families.

 

photo of a mother and child working with arts and crafts

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Stay in touch with parents over the summer

Summer break should not signal the end of home-school communication. Staying connected with families during the summer months will help you keep parents informed and make the start of next school year less chaotic and more efficient. Plan to send families information on:

  • Summer events. Send out reminders about any summer camps, activities and school tours.
  • What to expect when school starts. Due to COVID-19, there will be changes to many school policies and procedures. Outline those changes as soon as possible. Sharing information early gives parents a chance to ask questions before the year starts. Also include links to forms that will need to be filled out.
  • Next year’s calendar. Share the dates for important meetings and events as soon as they are scheduled. Include dates for standardized testing and parent-teacher conferences, too.

did-you-know  Did You Know?

June 5, 2020 is World Environment Day—created by the United Nations (UN) to stimulate worldwide awareness of the environment and enhance political attention and action. Encourage students and their families to adopt healthy, environmentally friendly habits. Offer ideas: They could clean up a local park, write to their government officials, use less water, walk more, switch to sustainable products and more.

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There have been a lot of changes and disruptions this past year due to COVID-19. But one thing educators and families can always count on is the power of reading. When families read together daily, students’ reading skills soar. To encourage the families of your students to make reading an integral part of their daily lives:

  • Share literacy tips on your school website and social media platforms.
  • Encourage families to explore library websites. They can search for ebooks related to their children’s interests, read book reviews and make lists of titles to check out.
  • Compile a list of children’s books that address issues students may be facing during this time, such as anxiety, depression and disappointment.
  • Suggest families watch and listen to read-alouds of favorite children’s book titles on YouTube.

 

photo of a shelf with books

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Provide remote staff development on working with families

In these times of remote learning, parent involvement has become even more critical to students’ academic success. As a result, teachers are working more directly with families. When planning your next staff development session, include skill training in these four areas:

  1. Conducting parent interviews. How to ask questions that elicit meaningful responses from parents.
  2. Designing a parent involvement plan. How to design a year’s worth of activities that involve parents in supporting student learning.
  3. Developing a parent involvement notebook. How to start gathering resources and ideas for working with parents—where to go and who to ask for ideas that work.
  4. Understanding families from diverse cultural backgrounds. How to communicate respect and acceptance.

did-you-know  Did You Know?

According to several national organizations who serve low-income and first-generation students, thousands of low-income students are deferring and dropping college plans as a result of COVID-19. Some are scaling back from four-year colleges to attend community colleges, where their odds of earning a four-year degree significantly decrease.

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Studies show that many students suffer from summer learning loss. And this year’s losses may be even greater due to COVID-19 school closures. Start thinking about ways to partner with parents to help students retain what they have learned this year. Here are three strategies:

  1. Define it. Most parents might not know what the term “summer slide” means. Explain in general terms that children will lose some of their school skills if they don’t use them.
  2. Defeat it. Give parents ways they can work with their children. Make a list of “summer slide stoppers.” Suggest that parents read with their child for 15 minutes every day. Recommend summer online classes or virtual field trips. Share ideas for on-the-spot learning, such as measuring ingredients for a recipe.
  3. Distribute it. Share tips for preventing summer slide to parents as soon as possible. Send home notices, post summer learning ideas on your school website, run an ad in the local newspaper or try to get a spot on a local radio or cable TV station.

 

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Include college and career readiness information on your website

Studies show that parent involvement in post-secondary planning makes a student’s successful transition to college and a career more likely. Make sure your school website provides families with the information they need to navigate the process. This is especially important now that face-to-face meetings are impossible due to school closures. On your school website, include:

  • Links to resources such as the FAFSA, The College Board and the ACT websites.
  • College and career readiness articles and strategies.
  • Important details about college entrance exam dates and registration deadlines. Include your district’s high school graduation requirements.

did-you-know  Did You Know?

According to a recent nationwide survey, 78% of parents of K-12 students are satisfied with the communication from their children’s school during the COVID-19 shutdowns and 87% have at least one child who is engaging in learning activities from their school. However, nearly 25% of parents worry that their children may be ill-prepared for the upcoming school year.

Understanding Coronavirus in America Study, USC Dornsife Center for Economic and Social Research.

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Are you supporting teachers as they pivot to online learning and virtual classrooms? Share these tips from a veteran online teacher:

  • Consider recording some lectures and sending them to students. Students who struggle with internet access may miss a live lecture.
  • Keep recorded videos short—around 15 minutes. A series of short videos is more effective than one long video.
  • Show your face. Studies show that students are more engaged when they can see you.
  • Set up virtual office hours for students who need one-on-one attention.

 

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Make time for self-care

The new reality of remote learning is challenging for educators and students alike. Self-care is paramount during these uncertain times. Here are a few strategies to help you prioritize personal health:

  • Maintain consistent sleep and wake times that allow for plenty of sleep. Consider tracking your sleep with an app that measures sleep quality.
  • Establish a daily exercise schedule. Take a brisk walk or download a free fitness app.
  • Carve out time to relax. Schedule activities that promote calm, such as reading, working on puzzles or meditating.
  • Connect with others. Use video conference tools to stay in touch with family and friends. You can even share a meal online!

did-you-know  Did You Know?

A new nationwide poll conducted by the Collaborative for Student Success shows that 65% of teachers favor starting next year with “regularly scheduled instruction” rather than extending next school year, revisiting material from the end of this school year or offering students the option to repeat a grade. You can visit https://forstudentsuccess.org for full survey results.

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A kindergarten roundup event is a great way to connect with rising kindergartners and their families. While schools are unable to host in-person events, they can still reach out to families remotely. Consider hosting a video conference or recording a video presentation for families highlighting your kindergarten registration process. During your presentation, also share strategies for creating a home learning environment and let parents know that their engagement in school can boost their child’s:

  • Academic achievement.
  • Attendance.
  • Positive behavior.
  • Motivation for learning.
  • Likelihood of graduation.
  • Likelihood of postsecondary education.

 

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Educators share insights on the effects of COVID-19

EdWeek Research Center is conducting twice-monthly national surveys of K-12 teachers and district leaders to discover how they are addressing challenges affiliated with COVID-19 and remote learning. Here’s what one of their most recent surveys found:

  • Student and teacher morale have declined significantly.
  • Teachers are engaging in instruction and communication; however, equity problems persist.
  • Educators are most concerned that students will fall behind in math.
  • Email and video conferencing are the most common form of teacher-student interaction.
  • About 20% of students are not participating in school. That number is closer to 33% for low-income families.

did-you-know  Did You Know?

PBS KIDS is hosting a new Read-Along Series for children. Families can view the livestream on Mondays at 12:00 EST on PBS KIDS’ Facebook and YouTube, as well as Penguin Random House’s Facebook. Be sure to let your families know!

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