Research links family engagement to improved student math skills in elementary school. Here are some key findings from one study:

  • Parent engagement activities—such as parent workshops, math activities in school, math nights and math progress reports—improve parent support for home-school partnerships. This results in a higher percentage of students proficient in math on state achievement tests.
  • Math homework that involves demonstrating and discussing math skills with a family member is associated with higher percentages of students scoring at or above proficiency on standardized math achievement tests.
  • Sending home game packets and other math activities parents and children can do together is associated with higher percentages of students attaining proficiency on math achievement tests.

—S.B. Sheldon, J.L. Epstein and C. Galindo, “Not Just Numbers: Creating a Partnership Climate to Improve Math Proficiency in Schools,” Leadership and Policy in Schools.

 

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Share math resources with families

If you want families to engage in math activities at home, give them a list of fun websites and apps to try. Here are three educator-tested sites to include on your list:

  • PBS KIDS (pbskids.org) provides hands-on activities, digital games and videos focused on math.
  • Speakaboos (www.speakaboos.com/stories/math) introduces a variety of interactive storybooks with mathematical themes.
  • Bedtime Math (bedtimemath.org) offers families with kids ages 3-9 ways to have fun with math together.

did-you-know  Did You Know?

According a study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, students’ personalities may influence how they perform in math and reading. Researchers found that intellectual curiosity and confidence had a significant effect on students’ math and reading proficiency.

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Teachers can play a critical role in helping students and their families prepare for the future. By offering information and opportunities to communicate, they can help young students achieve their dreams. Encourage teachers to:

  • Help students see the connection between what they are learning in school and the workplace.
  • Invite parents and community members to your classroom to talk about their jobs and how they use subjects like math and English on the job.
  • Create assignments that help students plan for the future. Give them the assignment of writing about how they see their life in 10 years. Then list the steps they’ll need to take to get there.
  • Convince students and parents that college is an option. Many low-income students and their parents think that college is out of reach.
  • Take field trips. Invite students and their parents on a field trip to a nearby college.

 

Give families the college and career information they need

Many parents feel that schools don’t provide them with enough guidance or information about preparing students for life after high school. Consider sending home a survey to find out what topics families are most interested in learning about. Here are some topics to include in your survey:

  1. Higher education options.
  2. College entrance requirements.
  3. College entrance exams.
  4. Managing college applications.
  5. Writing college essays.
  6. Scholarships.
  7. Filling out the FAFSA.

 

Quote of the Day

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“The best preparation for tomorrow is doing your best today.”

H. Jackson Brown Jr.

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When students spend too much time in front of screens, they can experience eye discomfort, otherwise known as digital eye strain. Signs of digital eye strain include:

  • Headaches.
  • Neck or shoulder pain.
  • Irritated eyes.
  • Reduced attention span.
  • Negative shift in behavior.
  • Inability to focus.

Encourage students to follow the 20-20-20 rule: For every 20 minutes they spend staring at a screen, students should turn away from the screen and look at an object at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds or more. This exercise helps students relax their eye muscles.

 

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Boost attendance at school events

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

  1. Shorten events.
  2. Promote parent connections. 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.
  4. Advertise the event with written invitations, social media, automated phone calls, emails and text messages.

did-you-know  Did You Know?

According to The Vision Council, nearsightedness has increased 66% over the last 30 years. Many experts believe that excessive screen time is a contributing factor to this increase.

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When it comes to standardized tests in elementary school, parents often worry more than students about the results. To build parents’ confidence about testing and help students do their best, inform families about:

  • How tests work. Parents often feel “in the dark” about standardized tests. Address common questions, such as: What tests will my child take during elementary school? What subjects do they cover? Why are these tests given? What kinds of questions do they ask? How are students prepared? What do the scores mean?
  • When tests are scheduled. Give parents plenty of notice so they can avoid making appointments or planning vacations on test days.
  • How to support children. Parents can make sure their kids keep up with schoolwork, review key topics at home, maintain consistent sleep routines, and stay upbeat and relaxed about testing. Publicize any extra help that is available for parents of struggling students.

 

Involve families to celebrate the 100th day of school

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. Have them ask their parents to make predictions, too.
  3. Challenge students and parents 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 reading contest. Who can read the most books in the next 100 days?

 

Quote of the Day

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“Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.”

Herman Cain

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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 promoting 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.

 

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How well does your school do these five things?

How well does your school do these five things?

  1. Provide opportunities for families to lead and share in decision-making regarding school policies and programs affecting their children.
  2. Promote clear two-way communication between the school and families about school programs and children’s progress.
  3. Help parents develop skills that foster positive relationships with their children and support learning at home.
  4. Involve parents in instructional and support roles at school (with appropriate training).
  5. Help families access the community and support services they need.

did-you-know  Did You Know?

Studies show that when students feel safe and supported by adults at school, they are better able to learn.

National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development

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