Standardized tests are a fact of life. Yet many parents don’t understand the information that these tests provide. As test time approaches, it’s crucial to communicate as much information as you can to parents.

  • Provide information outlining (in clear and simple language) the purpose of each test and its implications. Include specific ways parents can help at home, too.
  • Post testing dates and information on your school website and social media accounts.
  • Emphasize the importance of regular attendance, daily reading, good study habits, setting high expectations for achievement, monitoring homework, a positive attitude about school and regular communication with teachers.

 

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Help students do their best on tests

When students feel comfortable and know what to expect in a testing situation—and when they believe they can do well—their scores generally improve. Here are some things teachers can do to motivate students to do their best on tests:

  1. Tell students you expect them to do well.
  2. Let students know what to expect. Share information about what will be covered, how the questions will be asked, how much time they will have, etc.
  3. Teach students strategies for dealing with test anxiety such as positive visualization and breathing exercises.
  4. Prevent noise and distractions while students are taking tests.
  5. Provide prompt feedback.
  6. Reward improvement and celebrate success.

did-you-know  Did You Know?

A study found that when elementary school students have classmates from the previous school year in their current classes, they have higher attendance rates. Researchers believe that elementary school students benefit from peer stability.

J.J. Kirksey and M.A. Gottfried, “Familiar Faces: Can Having Similar Classmates from Last Year Link to Better School Attendance This Year?” Elementary School Journal.

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It’s time to make sure your kindergarten registration information is updated and available on your school website and social media platforms. Be sure to include information such as:

  • The cut-off age for students entering kindergarten.
  • How, when and where to register children for kindergarten.
  • Links to download forms needed for registration.
  • Medical forms and a list of vaccinations needed by the first day of school.
  • The date and time of your spring registration event (transition day, roundup, etc.).
  • An explanation of what parents can expect at this event. Tell them if they should bring their children and if childcare will be provided for younger siblings.

 

Reach out to preschools for transition success

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!

  • Share your kindergarten curriculum with local preschools. Allow preschool teachers to observe or work in the kindergarten classroom. Encourage kindergarten teachers to observe preschool classes, too.
  • 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.
  • Invite preschool classes to visit the school. Children might take tours, eat in the cafeteria and visit with kindergartners. Share photos of the event with 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.

 

Quote of the Day

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“Good planning without good working is nothing.”

Dwight D. Eisenhower

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Parents work hard all day. Once they get home, they still have to prepare meals, do household chores, check homework, get younger children to bed, etc. To encourage them to attend school events:

  • Begin and end promptly. Advertise a beginning and an ending time—then stick to your schedule.
  • Shorten meetings. If parents know that an event will take only an hour or an hour and a half, they may be more likely to attend.
  • Provide refreshments. Let parents know what they can expect: light refreshments, pizza or a potluck dinner. Ask grocery stores or restaurants to donate food.
  • Provide childcare. Consider recruiting high school students. They may be able to earn community service hours.
  • Meet parents at the door. It’s hard to walk into a room filled with strangers. Having a teacher, a school administrator or other friendly member of the staff greet them can ease new parents into the group.

 

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Boost attendance at family events

If you are experiencing low turnout at your family events, it’s time to get creative. Here are three attendance-boosting strategies that have worked for other schools:

  1. Ask for “neighborhood parent leaders.” These parent volunteers will be in charge of corralling parents in their neighborhoods. They might set up carpools or pool their resources for childcare. Sometimes, simply knowing a familiar face will also be attending an event is enough to get parents to attend.
  2. Ask for endorsements. If you host an event every year—like a “transition to middle school” event—ask parents who have previously attended to recommend the event to this year’s parents.
  3. Try the buddy system. It works for students on field trips; perhaps it can work to increase parent attendance. Encourage parents to pair up with a “buddy”—buddies can call or text each other before events and make plans to meet.

did-you-know  Did You Know?

According to Pew Research Center, a growing number of Americans use smartphones as their primary means of online access at home. One in five American adults are “smartphone-only” internet users—meaning they own a smartphone, but do not have traditional home broadband service.

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As schools become more diverse, look for ways to incorporate and celebrate the diversity. Here are three ideas:

  1. Establish a buddy program for families that do not speak fluent English. Pair these families with a bilingual family that is familiar with your school and can answer questions.
  2. Plan a culture fair. Invite families to bring an item that expresses their heritage and would help others learn about their culture. Display these artifacts and give families a chance to mingle and talk.
  3. Create a cookbook. Invite families to submit a favorite recipe that reflects their culture. Along with the ingredients and directions, ask families to include a short paragraph about their memories of preparing and eating the dish. Collect these recipes in a class or school cookbook.

 

Engage parents from diverse cultures

Culture affects how we view time, personal space, body language, voice volume and small talk. Culture also dictates how parents view their role in educating children. Understanding these differences is a first step in bridging the cultural gap between educators and parents. It’s also important to:

  • Be aware of your biases. Notice when you are making a judgment—positive or negative—about a student or parent. Ask yourself if this judgment comes from an assumption based on the person’s culture, education level or other factor?
  • Become familiar with the holidays and traditions your students celebrate. Try not to schedule events that conflict with important dates or traditions.
  • Build rapport with parents. Ask them to share their cultures and experiences with you.
  • Make sure your school reflects diverse cultures from books and curriculum to pictures on the wall.
  • Identify parent advisers. If you’re unsure of the appropriateness of materials or lessons, consult them.

 

Quote of the Day

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“Diversity is being invited to the party; inclusion is being asked to dance.”

Verna Myers

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Helping students develop social and emotional skills leads to higher academic performance, improved peer relationships and deeper connections to school. Here are ways schools can engage families in social-emotional learning:

  • Get to know students’ families. Gather information on family composition, concerns, special skills, experiences, etc. This knowledge can help teachers forge stronger relationships with families.
  • Ask families to set goals for their children. What types of social and emotional skills would they like their children to develop? What support might they need?
  • Form a committee made up of educators, parents and community members to oversee SEL program development, implementation and evaluation.
  • Plan on-going initiatives. Host workshops for parents. Distribute handouts at family events. Include articles in your newsletter and on social media.

 

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Reinforce positive student behaviors

Certain student behaviors are linked to a positive school culture. To promote them, encourage teachers to recognize students who demonstrate:

  • Kindness.
  • Pride in their work.
  • Effective communication skills.
  • Leadership.

did-you-know  Did You Know?

Social-emotional learning is comprised of five core competencies: self-awareness, self-management, responsible decision-making, social awareness, and relationship skills.

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