Improve family engagement by using the same social media parents are already using! Create a Facebook page or Twitter account for your school. Then post or tweet:

  • Ways parents can support student learning.
  • Invitations, updates and reminders about school events.
  • Positive news about students and school staff.
  • Volunteer opportunities for students and/or parents.
  • Short updates from school meetings.
  • Photos from school activities or events.

 

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Recharge your batteries over the break

The winter break is right around the corner. You may have a lot of holiday plans, but it’s also important to do some things that will help you return to school refreshed, renewed and energized. To make the most of your break, plan to:

  • Reflect on the year to date. What has gone well? What hasn’t? What would you like to change? What could be fine-tuned? Make some notes about the things you will change or do differently when you return from the break
  • Spend time getting organized. Are there things you can do now that will make the remainder of the school year go more smoothly? If so, plan to tackle a few items over the break.
  • Take time for yourself. Do some things you haven’t had time for during the school year. Read that novel you’ve been wanting to read. Go for a walk. Sleep in. Catch up with old friends.

did-you-know  Did You Know?

According to the 2019 Common Sense Census: Media by Tweens and Teens, 8- to 12-year-olds spend close to five hours every day on screens for entertainment. Teens spend close to seven and a half hours daily on screens.

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Family engagement is critical to student success in school. Yet many teachers have no formal training in working with families. Make sure your teachers know how to:

  • Conduct effective conferences. In many cases, parent-teacher conferences are the only time parents meet one-on-one with a teacher. Yet teachers don’t always know how to use this time effectively.
  • Work with parents when a student has a problem.
  • Communicate with parents about student progress. Report cards aren’t enough. Parents want specific information about their child’s learning.
  • Involve parents in learning. When students can tie what they’re learning in school to life at home, class discussion is more robust and the learning is deeper and more relevant.

 

Harness the power of volunteers

Volunteers can be an invaluable source of support for schools and can free teachers up to work individually with students. Make sure your volunteer program offers:

  • Variety. Not every volunteer wants to work in the classroom with students. Not every volunteer is available during school hours. The more opportunities you offer, the more volunteers you are likely to recruit.
  • Training. Host an orientation meeting for volunteers and provide training. Make sure they know whom to contact if they have questions.
  • Resources. Make sure volunteers have the supplies and tools they need to do the job.
  • Appreciation. Volunteers will be more engaged and more likely to return if they feel valued.

 

Quote of the Day

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“If you have an important point to make, don't try to be subtle or clever. Use a pile driver. Hit the point once. Then come back and hit it again. Then hit it a third time—a tremendous whack.”

Winston Churchill

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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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