Studies consistently show that a positive home environment contributes to student success at school. That’s why it’s important for schools to share information about effective discipline with parents.

  • A structured home life promotes school success. Regular schedules and routines, such as scheduled homework time, bedtime and meals, help children develop the independence and self-discipline they need to succeed in school.
  • Discipline is about teaching. Punishment does not teach children what they should do; it merely attempts to stop negative behaviors. Effective discipline begins with establishing clear rules and consequences—and enforcing them consistently. It also helps to acknowledge and praise children’s positive behavior.
  • Children perform better when they know what is expected of them. When parents set high, yet reasonable expectations, children are more likely to meet them.

 

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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“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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Before parents can help their children succeed in school, they need to understand your school’s curriculum and goals. Here are four ways you can keep parents informed:

  1. Create brief, jargon-free descriptions of the goals for each grade and each subject area. Include information about the teachers and key curricular events in each area, too.
  2. Host a series of parent workshops that focus on the curriculum.
  3. Invite parents and teachers to participate in discussion groups that focus on current teaching activities.
  4. Hold parent/child workshops that teach hands-on activities to reinforce the curriculum. Provide ideas for family activities that help parents make a connection with the subjects. Hold the workshops at different locations in the community and/or at different times of day.

 

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How to be an approachable principal

To keep the lines of communication open with families, it’s important to be a principal that parents want to talk to. Make sure you are:

  • Visible. Walk the hallways, stand outside during student drop-off and pickup, and attend school events when possible.
  • Engaged. When you attend school events, don’t sit off to the side. Sit with parents and engage in conversations.
  • Friendly. Smile and greet students and parents whenever you see them.
  • Open to feedback. Let parents know that you want to hear from them. Outline all the ways they can reach you to share their comments and concerns.

did-you-know  Did You Know?

According to a new study, reading to young children in any language will likely help them learn to read in English. The study found that children who had strong early reading skills in their native Spanish language experienced greater growth in their ability to read English from kindergarten through fourth grade than their peers without strong early reading skills in their native Spanish language.

J.E. Relyea and S.J. Amendum, “English Reading Growth in Spanish‐Speaking Bilingual Students: Moderating Effect of English Proficiency on Cross‐Linguistic Influence,” Child Development.

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Parent involvement is critical to student success in school. Yet many teachers still have no formal training in working with families. When planning your next teacher staff development session, consider including skill training on strategies to improve collaboration among teachers and parents. Show teachers how to:

  • Conduct parent interviews. What to say to parents to elicit meaningful responses.
  • Design a parent involvement plan. How to design a year’s worth of activities with parents that support student learning.
  • Develop a parent involvement notebook. How to start gathering resources and ideas for working with parents—where to go and whom to ask for ideas that work!
  • Learn from parents. What do parents think about school involvement? How can teachers help parents maximize their efforts?
  • Understand families from diverse cultural backgrounds. How to communicate respect and acceptance.

 

Foster positive teacher-parent relationships

When the lines of communication are open between teachers, students and parents, everyone wins. Students become more motivated to learn, have better attendance, improved behavior and more positive attitudes. To build relationships with parents, encourage teachers to:

  • Attend school events. Whether it’s the annual Fall Festival or the fourth-grade musical, teachers’ presence matters. When parents have opportunities to interact with teachers outside the classroom, they are able to form stronger connections with them.
  • Communicate with parents regularly. Send home weekly updates to let parents know what’s going on in the classroom. Parents feel like partners when they are kept in the loop.
  • Ask parents to contribute. Send home a questionnaire to find out about parents’ cultural traditions, interests, skills and knowledge. Invite them to share information with the class when it connects with something being taught in the classroom. Parents feel valued when they are asked to contribute.

 

Quote of the Day

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“Leadership is not about you; it's about investing in the growth of others.”

Ken Blanchard

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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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