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

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

 

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Share tips to reduce digital eye strain

Educators and students are spending an abundance of time in front of screens these days, which can lead to digital eye strain. Signs of digital eye strain include:

  1. Headaches.
  2. Neck or shoulder pain.
  3. Irritated eyes.
  4. Reduced attention span.
  5. Negative shift in behavior.
  6. Inability to focus.

Share the 20-20-20 Rule with your school community: For every 20 minutes you spend staring at a screen, turn away from the screen and look at an object at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds or more. This exercise helps relax eye muscles.

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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Nurturing relationships with families is more important than ever. Without their engagement and support, students suffer. Experts agree that effective family engagement programs 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.

 

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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 content on social media platforms.
  • Identify parent advisers. If you’re unsure of the appropriateness of materials or lessons, consult parent advisors.

did-you-know  Did You Know?

“We all should know that diversity makes for a rich tapestry, and we must understand that all the threads of the tapestry are equal in value no matter what their color.”

Maya Angelou

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As schools implement new policies and procedures related to COVID-19 and student learning, it’s important to find out what parents are thinking. Surveys can help you do just that—but they don’t work if parents don’t answer them. To create effective surveys, follow these guidelines:

  • Have a specific goal and keep the survey short.
  • Translate the questions into the languages parents speak.
  • Keep the language simple and avoid jargon.
  • Minimize the number of open-ended questions.
  • Make it clear that surveys can be anonymous.
  • Share the results of the survey with parents.

 

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Teachers can help mediate students’ stress

Teachers can play a powerful role in reducing student stress. Whether classes are in-person or online, encourage teachers to:

  • 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. Many online platforms have capabilities to place students in small groups during class.
  • Make students laugh. Just because the subject is important doesn’t mean it can’t be fun..

did-you-know  Did You Know?

September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. The emotional and psychological impacts of COVID-19 can lead to feelings of hopelessness and thoughts about suicide. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline has a collection of tips and resources to address emotional wellbeing during the pandemic. Check it out at niswc.com/SACF_suicide

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Parent-child relationships play a powerful role in children's learning and development—especially when students are learning from home. That’s why it’s so beneficial for schools to share parenting information with families. Encourage parents to:

  1. Show an interest in what their children are learning and doing. Let their children know they will always be there for them.
  2. Set high expectations for their children. Help children set goals and continuously strive for improvement.
  3. Provide support. Help their children complete tasks and achieve goals.
  4. Share power. Listen to their children’s ideas and concerns. Let them participate in making family decisions.
  5. Expand possibility. Broaden their children’s horizons and introduce them to new people and opportunities.

 

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Ask the community to support students

As students transition to the reality of remote learning, they need a lot of support from their parents and families. Why not ask the community to support those students during the transition as well? See if your community business partners would be willing to provide:

  • Discounts. Local businesses might be willing to offer discounts or free products to students—perhaps 10% off a purchase for showing a new school ID.
  • Congratulations. Ask business partners to post notices on their company marquees congratulating students on their resilience and wishing them success.
  • Access to food. They could arrange for meal trucks to visit local neighborhoods and provide discounted meals.

did-you-know  Did You Know?

Today is the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, which granted women the right to vote. Back in 1973, the U.S. Congress designated August 26 as Women’s Equality Day.

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Students benefit greatly when their parents can provide assignment support and guidance at home. To promote involvement:

  • Distribute your school’s homework/assignment policy and post it on your online platforms. Encourage teachers to post grade- and subject-specific policies as well.
  • Provide general information about the importance of study skills. Offer parents strategies on helping students with organization, time management, responsibility, test preparation, listening, note-taking, persistence and more.
  • Survey parents. Moderate a social media discussion. Ask parents to share situations that are challenging for them. Encourage parents to offer tips and strategies that work well for them and their children. Parent-to-parent tips can be very effective.

 

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Try a virtual approach to parent workshops

Most schools provide parenting information through workshops, meetings or classes. But with today’s health concerns and need for social distancing, holding gatherings at your school building may not be possible. Consider sharing information with parents in new ways, such as:

  1. An audio recording that parents can listen to at home or as they commute to and from work.
  2. A video that parents can watch on a smartphone, tablet or computer.
  3. A collection of articles that parents can download from your school’s website or social media site.

did-you-know  Did You Know?

A new study showed that 10 to 14-year-olds who promised to be truthful were less likely to cheat than those who did not—even when they could not be found out. The researchers note that promises could be a powerful way of encouraging honest behavior in an academic context.

P. Kanngiesser and others, “Keeping them honest: Promises reduce cheating in adolescents,” Journal of Behavioral Decision Making.

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