Parents as Partners
Parents are their child’s first teacher. Once their children start school, parents often aren't sure how to support them at home. While we, the teachers, are responsible for instilling most of the academic instruction, we need to learn to share our role, rather than take it over. Our students will be most successful if parents and teachers are on the same page. Here are some suggestions for regularly providing parents with knowledge to help their children grow into strong, independent readers and writers.
1. Invite parents in person whenever you can
- Organize hands-on teaching opportunities for the parents that put them in their child’s shoes (such as a spelling test for the parents with rarely used, intricate words).
- Plan to do some teaching during curriculum night.
- Hold information sessions if possible.
- Be well prepared for student-led conferences or report card meetings to share student strengths, goals, and how they can help.
2. Provide educational handouts
- Add a tip or strategy to your weekly homework e-mails.
- Send out a monthly newsletter with literacy ideas, strategies, and games. Find customizable newsletter templates on-line such as those at: www.educationworld.com
- If time prevents you from sending things on a regular basis, send a handout home once a term.
3. Let your homework teach parents indirectly
- Think about the work you are sending home and the message it gives parents about your philosophy of learning.
- Find ways to make homework match your philosophy.
See Homework Connection.
4. Plan class events / celebrations
- Bring parents into the classroom with their children to share successes in an informal way.
- Use that time to model how you support students and to highlight your beliefs about how children learn to read and write.
Nevertheless, no school can work well for children if parents and teachers do not act in partnership on behalf of the children's best interests.
Dorothy H. Cohen