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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Strong parent-school relationships encourage good attendance—and good attendance enables learning. To gain parents’ support:

  • Show appreciation for families. Include activities that celebrate families’ diversity.
  • Educate parents. Teach parents to establish bedtime and morning routines that eliminate the last-minute rushing around that often causes students to be tardy.
  • Invite community organizations to be your partners. Ask them to help you overcome the barriers that keep students out of school such as lack of childcare and cultural barriers.
  • Recognize attendance success. In addition to reminding families of attendance policies, recognize families whose children are in school every day.
  • Involve parents, students and staff in committees that focus on evaluating attendance issues.
  • Overcome attendance issues. The goal is not to punish families, but rather to help them resolve problems. Work with them to identify barriers to regular attendance and find solutions.

 

Get resources to support family involvement

Involving parents can sometimes seem like an overwhelming task. But many schools have found creative ways to involve other organizations in their efforts. Here are three ideas:

  1. Team up with a college or university. One Philadelphia school teamed up with Temple University to offer parents classes in subjects that ranged from computer literacy to English.
  2. Connect with your local library. Many libraries have a community room that is available for meetings. If a library is close to where many of your parents live, perhaps you could offer satellite meetings or parent conferences in a place closer to their home.
  3. Find sponsors. Some community businesses may be willing to sponsor a school activity if they receive credit. You probably won’t sell the naming rights to your lunchroom. But you could put up a sign acknowledging that a local restaurant donated the pizza for your Winter Concert.

 

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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A well-disciplined classroom is the best environment for learning. But even well-prepared teachers have problems from time to time. Share these time-tested strategies for putting an end to poor conduct:

  • Remind and warn. Point to the rules you’ve posted. Remind students of the consequences for breaking those rules.
  • Get closer. Move to stand or sit next to the misbehaving student. It serves as an effective nonverbal warning.
  • Use your voice. You can change the pace of what you are saying—speaking more slowly or coming to a complete stop. Or you can raise your voice—but not angrily. This sends a signal that you have noticed inappropriate behavior.
  • Ignore it. “Planned ignoring” works well when students seem to be looking for attention. If you don’t give any, the student will stop the mumbling, getting out of the seat or other distracting behavior. Be sure to give these students positive attention and praise when they do something right.

 

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Teachers can mediate students’ stress

Teachers can’t control the endless forces outside the classroom that cause kids stress. But they can work to mediate stress—once students get into the classroom. Encourage teachers to:

  • Give students time to transition from any stress they might have experienced on the way to class. Stretching, playing a game, journal writing, soft music or small group discussions can help.
  • Make it easy for students to understand what is expected of them. Establish clear rules and procedures—and be consistent in enforcing/following them.
  • Avoid unrealistic deadlines. Think carefully about the amount of time most students will really need to finish an assignment.
  • Support positive peer relationships by encouraging teamwork.
  • Make students laugh. Just because the subject is important doesn’t mean it can’t be fun.

did-you-know  Did You Know?

Nearly 25% of principals and over 50% of teachers surveyed by the Education Week Research Center listed student discipline as a major source of friction in the principal-teacher relationship at their school.

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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) now determines whether or not their children will be successful in school. Parents need to know that they are an important piece of the puzzle. 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.

 

A reading challenge keeps learning alive during school holiday

When your students go home for their winter break, will they keep learning? They will if you send them home with a reading challenge.

Ask families to read together for 20 minutes each day. They can write the title of the book they read on a strip of paper and tape the ends together to form a link. Each day they read, families get to add another link. Who can create the longest paper chain over the break?

Remind parents that with each link they add, they are forging a strong chain that will support their child’s learning. Reading together as a family also creates strong links between parents and children

 

Quote of the Day

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“At the end of the day, the most overwhelming key to a child’s success is the positive involvement of parents.”

Jane D. Hull

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