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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation
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Creating a Strong Parent Community

Hands down, teaching children is the most incredible and rewarding occupation that exists. That being said, teaching is a complicated profession for many reasons. There are so many variables that can impact a teacher's year including: class size, administration, supplies and resources, colleagues, class makeup and of course families!

A supportive parent can be a teacher's best friend. The only thing that could be better than that is a supportive group of parents! I have taught in a variety of educational settings and have worked with students ranging from toddlers to sixth graders. I can assure you that the support of family members has a strong correlation to a student's success in learning and to the classroom community no matter what the age of the students.

As teachers, we can encourage our parents to become involved in meaningful ways. Here are some ideas that we can suggest to our families. Please suggest any others in the comments section below.

List of Helpful Parent Activities: Pre-K

1. Offer to come help out during lunch or an art project
2. Donate used books or art supplies to your teacher
3. Come in to do a "Guest Read Aloud" for the class
4. Make sure to read with your child at least 30 minutes a night
5. Support mathematical learning by intertwining counting into your daily routines at home (ex: counting socks in the laundry, counting eggs while cooking, etc.)

List of Helpful Parent Activities: Lower Elementary

1. Come show your support for writing during a publishing party
2. Offer to help out during publishing by typing up students' stories
3. Stay late one morning to share about something you are really good at. You could even be a guest teacher for your particular area of expertise
4. Support your kids with homework responsibility and organization by asking them to see their homework each night to check for completion and understanding
5. Always be prompt for the start of class, distractions are very tricky for teachers!

List of Helpful Parent Activities: Upper Elementary

1. Read at home with your kids. Even though they are in sixth grade and may be strong readers, the texts are tough and getting tougher!
2. Come in for Parent-Teacher conferences and bring between one to five specific questions about your child's progress
3. Ask the teacher questions. By middle school, the content is getting trickier so if you aren't sure how to support your child at home, just ask
4. Email about a time when you used a resource from the teacher. It always makes us happy to hear the success stories. (Ex: I had a family email me about a website I had recommended. They said it had really been supporting their son and it really put a smile on my face)
5. When behavioral situations occur, make sure to stay calm and have a proactive tone rather than a negative one. Always try to work with the teacher and maintain a united front

A classroom community is built on trust. Our kids need to trust us and we need to trust each other. That is when the best learning happens.

An Amazing Memory

The best family memory I have is of a time when the entire class community was together during a publishing party. This was a second grade collaborative team teaching class and my co-teacher and I had printed compliment cards for the stories. One student did not have a family member present. Another parent walked up to him and wrote his first compliment card. That sparked an incredible idea -- all of our families began writing compliment cards for multiple children -- not just their own. The ultimate family member demonstrates a true interest in the classroom community rather than only in their own child. In my mind, this memory represents the ultimate classroom community.

What are some other ways that parents can be supportive?

Comments (4)Sign in or register to postSubscribe to comments via RSS

Lynedah's picture

I firmly believe that the parent support is essential, however I would like to see ideas coming from the students. the students could prepare invitations to invite the parents to an event. The studens could teach a small group of parents something that they have expertise in. The students can have discussions about something that they do at home with their parent that really helps their learning process. Let's keep the students at the forefront in all that we do.

Alyssa Kuhlman's picture
Alyssa Kuhlman
1/2 Montessori Teacher from Minneapolis

I always tell my parents that we are working together as a team for their child's education. I whole-heartedly agree with you on the importance of parent involvement. I really appreciate your ideas on how to get parents more involved in their child's education!

Marisa Kaplan's picture
Marisa Kaplan
Former NYC teacher, Consultant, Creator and writer of EdGeeks.com
Blogger

Sorry it has taken so long to get back to you...technical difficulties:) I am so glad that you found the ideas useful, but more importantly that you yourself are actively supporting your little ones by working with their families. Thanks for all you do in Minneapolis!

Marisa Kaplan's picture
Marisa Kaplan
Former NYC teacher, Consultant, Creator and writer of EdGeeks.com
Blogger

Your ideas only make this article stronger! Yes, we must keep our students at the forefront of everything we do and all of your ideas are fantastic Lynedah. Bridging the gap between home and school must place heavy emphasis on the child. Thanks for sharing.

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