Studies show that family engagement leads to higher math scores for students in elementary school. To boost student achievement in math:

  1. Host parent engagement activities—such as parent workshops and math-themed events.
  2. Assign math homework that involves demonstrating and discussing math skills with a family member.
  3. Send home game packets and other math activities parents and children can do together.

 

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Morning math gets families calculating!

Everyone needs to eat in the morning. So why not invite families to a grade-level math breakfast? Provide activities that focus on skills and concepts being taught in the classroom. Moms and dads can drop in on their way to work. What a great way to start the day! For a successful event:

  • Have each student design an invitation and decorate it with a favorite breakfast food.
  • Plan to offer beverages such as juice, milk, coffee and water. Limit food to finger foods such as bagels, donuts, muffins, breakfast bars and bananas.
  • Place a variety of math activities at each table. Include activities that relate to the math standards students are striving to meet. Include clear instructions and have students take the lead. This allows them to explain concepts and skills to parents.
  • Distribute activity sheets to parents so they can continue reinforcing math skills at home.
  • Collect data from your event (amount of food consumed, number of parents who attended, etc.) for use in math skills development—in the classroom or for homework with parents.

did-you-know  Did You Know?

A recent Stanford University study found that when elementary school students have a positive attitude about math, they perform better in the subject.

L. Chen and others, “Positive Attitude Toward Math Supports Early Academic Success: Behavioral Evidence and Neurocognitive Mechanisms,” Psychological Science.

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While there is no substitute for face-to-face communication, social media platforms make it easier for schools to connect with parents and students anytime and anywhere. They can also facilitate meaningful two-way communication between families and your school. That’s why many schools use Facebook to set up private groups, where teachers, students and families can discuss and share information.

 

Does your school website make the cut?

Your school’s website is a valuable tool for providing students and their families with important information. Is it as effective as it can be? Ask yourself these questions:

  • Is it mobile friendly? Be sure your content is easy to read on mobile devices. According to Google, there are now more searches on mobile devices than on desktop computers.
  • Is it easy to navigate? Make sure content is organized so parents can quickly locate the information they are looking for.
  • Does it contain images? Include photos of school staff and students having fun and learning. Seeing the faces of faculty can foster a sense of familiarity and trust with parents.
  • Is it easy to read? Use headlines and bullet points, when possible, to make information easy to scan. Make sure the layout is uncluttered and simple. Don’t try to cram too much content on your homepage.
  • Is it up to date? Make sure someone at your school has the ability to add content and update information. There is no reason for a parent to return to your site if the content never changes!

 

Quote of the Day

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“Excellence is to do a common thing in an uncommon way.”

Booker T. Washington

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Looking for a way to evaluate your home-school communication? Effective communication should:

  • Be clear, concise and free of jargon.
  • Be timely.
  • Provide for both personal and general messages.
  • Emphasize the positive.
  • Inform and remind parents about school policies and procedures.
  • Provide information on students’ progress.
  • Suggest strategies parents can use to support learning at home.

 

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Support families with a resource center

Want to get to know the families of your students? Create a family resource center in your school and invite parents to visit. Follow these guidelines:

  • Designate a physical space in your school where parents can gather. It can be an office, a classroom, a corner of the library—anywhere you can fit a few adult-sized tables and chairs.
  • Stock it with refreshments. Ask for donations from local grocery stores. Perhaps someone would be willing to donate a single-serve coffee brewer, coffee or hot chocolate pods, tea and bottles of water.
  • Provide helpful information. Make sure materials are written in the languages families speak. Include:
    • Strategies for supporting learning at home.
    • Locations of libraries and local museums.
    • Public transportation schedules.
    • Local childcare providers.
    • Community support agencies.

did-you-know  Did You Know?

October is National Principals Month! Let your voice be heard this month to honor, thank and advocate for all principals. #ThankAPrincipal for their hard work and dedication.

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Want to help students strengthen their reading skills? Here are three proven strategies to try:

  1. Make reading a required daily activity. For significant gains, students should be reading at least 30 minutes a day. If you can’t set aside dedicated reading time during the school day, create incentives to motivate students to read outside of school. Rather than assigning specific books, give students a choice of what to read.
  2. Help students set goals. Consider each student’s reading level and help set personalized reading goals. Track students’ progress and celebrate their success.
  3. Recommend challenging books. Students typically gravitate toward books that are easy for them to read. However, to experience substantial growth in reading skills, they need to read more complex texts. Suggest books that are at the upper reaches of students’ reading abilities.

 

Promote a love of reading with a family library event

Show students and their families how cool your school library is by hosting a “Live it up in the library” event. To make the most of the occasion:

  • Invite families for a guided tour of your library.
  • Have your school mascot greet families at the door.
  • Have teachers model how to make reading aloud fun.
  • Have students demonstrate some of your library’s cool features.
  • Allow everyone to check out a book to take home.
  • Send participants home with a bookmark (printed in advance or created by students at a special craft table).

 

Quote of the Day

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“Reading should not be presented to children as a chore, a duty. It should be offered as a gift.”

Kate DiCamillo

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Standardized tests are a fact of life. Yet many parents don’t understand the information that these tests provide. Nor are they aware of the significant implications for their children and the school. 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.
  • 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.
  • Post testing dates and information on your school website and social media accounts.

 

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Involving parents can improve test scores

Student scores on high-stakes achievement tests improve when parents are included in the equation. Here are two school-tested ideas to consider:

  1. Hold parent meetings. An elementary school in Kansas held a series of meetings designed to help parents understand what their second graders would be expected to do on the state achievement tests. They also offered practical ideas on what they could do at home to help their children prepare for the tests. Parents were provided with packets that contained practice tests in reading and math, writing prompts and practice writing tests.
  2. Use parents as resources. A high school in Ohio implemented an after-school tutoring program for their ninth graders. They reached out to parents and family members to be volunteer tutors, alongside education majors from a local university and retired teachers. Tutors helped students master the skills they would need to pass the state proficiency tests.

did-you-know  Did You Know?

October is Positive Attitude Month! According to research, having a positive attitude leads to:

  • Longer life span due to lower stress levels.
  • Lower chance of depression.
  • Increased physical and mental well-being.
  • More developed coping skills during challenges.

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