Every child should have the opportunity to realize the American dream of graduating from high school ready to attend college. However, that dream is only possible if schools and parents work together. Schools know that parents have an enormous impact on their children’s academic success. And while most parents value education, they don’t realize that what they do (or don’t do) now determines whether or not their children will graduate from high school and go on to college. Consider hosting workshops and family events that:

  • 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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Four ways schools can support low-income families

Students living at or below the poverty rate tend to have the highest dropout rates. Here are four ways schools can support low-income families:

  1. Help families meet basic needs. Parent liaisons can link families with community organizations to help with the basics of food, clothing and shelter.
  2. Provide before-school and after-school childcare. Low-income students are more likely to arrive at school late or be picked up from school early because of parents’ inflexible work schedules. Before- and after-school childcare ensures that students can experience a full day of school.
  3. Consider forming parent support groups. Parents might be able to pool their resources for things like childcare on days off from school and transportation to and from school for their children.
  4. Make sure low-income students have basic school supplies. Work with community business partners to ensure that all children have access to the items on your school supply list

did-you-know  Did You Know?

Next month is Music in Our Schools Month. How will your school celebrate? Consider adding a musical touch to your morning announcements. Try having a “mystery tune” each day, or a music trivia question.

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The most effective school principals use a combination of strategies to make sure their students, their staff––and their school––are the best they can be. Follow these five tips for success:

  1. Have a positive attitude. Your demeanor establishes the tone for everyone in the school.
  2. Support your teachers. Listen to teachers and promote their professional growth. Make sure they feel valued and respected.
  3. Pick your battles. Overlook small issues but fight for what is important.
  4. Don’t worry about being popular. Make decisions based on what’s right, even when you know those decisions won’t please everyone.
  5. Collaborate with other principals. Share what’s working and what’s not working in your schools and brainstorm ways to work together to find solutions.

 

Engage families during Women’s History Month

Next month is Women’s History Month. Start planning now so you can involve students, families and community members in your school’s celebration. Here are some ideas:

  • Have staff members share a short paragraph on a favorite book written by a female author. Post these on a bulletin board or share them on your school’s social media. Invite everyone in your school community to share their favorites using a hashtag, such as #womenwriters or #readwomen.
  • Identify successful women in your community—an elected official, a medical professional, an auto mechanic, etc. Invite them to visit the school throughout the month to talk about what they do.
  • Involve families in researching their family history. During the month, have students interview parents or grandparents to find out about interesting women in their family.

 

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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Students are taking more standardized tests than ever before. When you send home the results of these tests, think about what the scores tell you about each student. That will help you give parents the answer to the question: “What do these scores mean for my child?”

Compare each of your students’ test scores with their daily classwork. Are there any surprises—did any children do significantly better or worse than you expected? For many children, test scores will reflect the student’s classroom performance.

However, if there are significant differences between class performance and test scores, think about what might have caused the change. Look at the subskill scores—sometimes a low score on one subtest can lower the overall score. These subskill scores can also pinpoint problem areas.

 

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Expand your base of parent volunteers

In most schools, there’s a small but committed group of parents who seem to end up doing most of the work. To expand the base of parents who volunteer in your school:

  • Be specific. Explain volunteer assignments as clearly and completely as possible.
  • Provide a comfortable place to work. Make sure parent volunteers have a friendly space that includes all the supplies they need.
  • Highlight the work of parent volunteers in your school newsletter.
  • Show your appreciation. Throughout the year, give volunteers small gifts or personal notes from students and staff members to thank them for their hard work.

did-you-know  Did You Know?

This week is Random Acts of Kindness Week. The goal is to change schools, the workplace, families and society through kindness. Encourage your school staff and students to perform kind acts for others—not just this week, but throughout the school year.

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The key to student motivation doesn’t lie in cutting edge technology. Rather, it can be found in the effective use of some basic tried-and-true theories. Share these tips with teachers and families:

  • Enthusiasm. Students are more likely to be engaged and motivated to learn if you show them that you are excited about the material, too.
  • Choice. Allow students the freedom to make appropriate, reasonable choices—about how they will complete assignments and homework, for example.
  • Responsibility. Make sure students understand that along with freedom to make choices comes a responsibility to do their best.
  • Perspective. Communicate a positive message. Tell students what they did right as well as what fell short of the mark.
  • Encouragement. Sometimes a simple “good job” will go a long way with a student who is struggling.

 

Encourage students to 'hang in there'

Students who fail often want to give up and drop out of school. Inspire students and families by sharing the success stories of others who have failed but ended up succeeding:

  • Thomas Edison was thrown out of school because he couldn’t read and do the work.
  • Actors Susan Hampshire and Tom Cruise couldn’t read because of their dyslexia.
  • When Bob Dylan performed for his classmates at a high school talent show, they booed him off the stage.
  • George Washington was unable to spell throughout his life, and his grammar was very poor, too.
  • Albert Einstein was thought to have been simple minded. He found schoolwork—especially math—difficult.

 

Quote of the Day

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“Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.”

Winston S. Churchill

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The importance of regular school attendance cannot be overstated. So why do students miss school? Conduct a quick online survey to find out. Share a list of common reasons students are absent or tardy during the school year and ask parents to indicate which reasons apply to them. The list could include:

  • My child does not feel safe going to and from school.
  • My child has poor relationships with teachers and/or other students.
  • My child has been ill.
  • My child has not completed homework.
  • My child is sometimes needed at home to care for a family member.
  • My work schedule makes it difficult to get my child to school.
  • Family trips and vacations.
  • Cultural and religious holidays.
  • Medical and dental appointments.

 

graphic image with quick survey text

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A love of learning can improve attendance

Students who are successful academically and enjoy learning are more likely to want to attend school. To promote a love of learning throughout your school community:

  • Feature an article linking the love of learning to student attendance in your school newsletter and on your website.
  • Highlight the love of learning theme on your school marquee, on bulletin boards, and in handouts included in weekly take-home folders.
  • Identify barriers to students’ love of learning and share strategies to help students who struggle academically.

did-you-know  Did You Know?

February is International Boost Self-Esteem Month. Share some self-care strategies with staff, students and families that can help boost self-esteem and overall mental health.

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