Sunday, July 13, 2014

Getting Families Involved

For this month's post, our Gloggers (Guest Bloggers) are talking all about parent engagement.  We asked the question, "How do you encourage parents to stay involved in their child's education?"  The responses we got were wonderful.  Keep reading to access some great ideas as well as some FREEBIES!

Rosie Says....
Here’s my usual plan of attack for getting my class communication off to a positive start every year!  Understanding that people prefer to communicate in different ways is a good way to start building open communication with your class and their extended families…
Have this sheet available during the meet-the-teacher night!

·         At the initial meet the teacher event, I always circulate several large class lists that ask for people’s most up to date e-mail and phone numbers ( this normally produces different contact details to what the school office has on file….!) 
·         I ask them to highlight or circle their preferred communication method so I know I’ve got a greater chance of reaching them when I need to.
·         This is also a good way to secretly ‘roll-call’ parent attendance, as you can see at a glance afterwards who did not attend.
·         If confidentiality is of concern where you work, you can also hand out separate sheet for parents to complete individually.

·         I send home my ‘First week of school - getting to know you’ homework sheets which are available here as a freebie:  (this was also mentioned in last month’s glogger report!)
·         This is a great way to discover what parents think is important for their student to achieve in the coming year and what their strengths and weaknesses are.  Understanding parent priorities and values is a great support for teachers when deciding if parent meetings about child progress are necessary.
·         It also contains a section for parents/caregivers to complete which asks about skills the parents may have that could be utilized within the classroom.  This means you can target specific ‘parent help’/support if you need it.
·         It’s also good to find out about languages spoken within the child’s home – always important if you’re aiming for good communication!!

·         Make sure you initiate communication with as many families as possible (preferably positive!)
Check out this "thought you'd like to know" freebie!
·         I like to have a pile of these ‘Just thought you’d like to know’ notes printed and ready to go in the classroom should the need arise!  It’s available here as a freebie in my store:
·         Whenever an amazing effort is made by a child (academically, socially or emotionally) that warrants some extra recognition and praise, I send the child to grab the note which we address to the parents and fill out together - the children LOVE the prescription section of this note, and love watching  you record a message that’s all about them J
·         This special note is best used in moderation for perseverance or effort that is above and beyond and is a really powerful and immediate affirmation of a job well done.

And finally – communication is a 2 way street!  Does your parent community understand how best to make contact with you?  Are they aware of appropriate times to reach you and how long they can expect to wait for a reply? 

Wishing you all a positive start to your new school year with lots of cheerful communication!!

Carmen Says....
Communication is key! The school year goes a lot more smoothly when I have a good system for parent communication set up. <when parents are connected to what goes on in the classroom, there is less confusion and more opportunities for parents to provide support. At the very beginning of the year (preferably at Back to School Night) I make sure that I gather all the email addresses to make a contact list. Every Friday I send a class newsletter via email to all the parents (be sure to use BCC). In the newsletter I include:

*the topics we will be learning about in the coming week
*announcements & reminders
*requests for volunteers (for school or classroom needs/events)
*upcoming test dates

Along with setting up regular communication, I also emphasize the essential role that parents play in their child's reading skills. The habits they develop at home are a huge indicator of their reading success in school. I recommend 2 books to every parent:

*Reading Magic by Mem Fox
*The Read Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease

Both books outline the basic, simple things that are so important to literacy in the home!  

Click here to visit Carmen's store!

Amy Says...
Getting to know my students and making parents a part of the learning process are always two top priorities for me, especially at the beginning of the school year.  As many of you know, these are never easy goals to accomplish.  That is why I was excited but skeptical when I stumbled upon a simple but powerful tool called a Million Words or Less. 

Last year, I tried this with my students and it was a huge hit. The kids loved the idea of giving their parents homework and most of my parents seemed to enjoy the assignment.  Below is a link to a free product to use this assignment in you classroom.  It is an amazing way to get insight into children in your classroom, and to also let parents know that you care about their input and opinions.  I felt that after I did this activity last year that I was instantly a part of each student’s life.  It was truly amazing to see how much parents had to say about their children and how honest they were in their responses. I even had several parents thank me for giving them the opportunity to tell me about their child. I will definitely keep A Million Words or Less in my back to school toolbox for years to come.

Susan Says....
We all know that parental involvement can make or break your year! One way I keep my parents informed and involved is through my weekly newsletter. I send him a newsletter every Monday. It includes our weekly homework and spelling words. It also tells parents what we are learning that week and any important upcoming events. 

Click here to go to Susan's Store!

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