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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Strengthening the Home to School Connection

Strengthening the Home to School Connection

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We all know that children do better in school when parents are actively involved in their education. Parental involvement is one of the biggest predictors of student success. But what does that mean for both parents and teachers? How can they build that bridge between home and school which is so vital?

Edutopia has put together a page of resources, but we also want to hear from you.

Tell us what's worked and hasn't worked in your house or classroom. What are your favorite strategies and resources for strengthening the home-to-school connection?

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Becky Fisher's picture
Becky Fisher
Education Consultant

As a teacher, I was always trying to find new ways to get parents involved, as well as provide them the tools to get involved in a practical way. It's important to be sensitive to the working parent that wants to be involved, but is very busy. Therefore designing easy ways to contribute to their child's education and be more hands on with their learning is great!

I used a variety of tools to do this. One was a bi-monthly newsletter that students took home to share with parents. There were pictures, student work, and curriculum updates. We had concerts, performances, and invited parents to rehearsals. I would also invite parents to come to in-school lessons, though this was only available twice a year as an option in order to keep focus on the practice. I had students interview parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts, and/or uncles about their favorite music from growing up. Each student made a family music map, and then we made a class music map to mirror that.

There are tons of ways to get parents involved, but parents are busy. It's important to be sensitive to the parents who can't make the concerts or lessons. I always tried to be flexible and send students home with things to share!

Whitney Hoffman's picture
Whitney Hoffman
Producer LD Podcast, Digital Media Consultant, Author

Hi Becky!

One thing they have done from time to time in our District is use tools like Ustream or Skype to let parents who are stuck out of town or at work attend class events virtually. If you have a computer and the bandwidth and can arrange it in advance so parnets and grandparents know when to tune in, i know some parents really appreciate it!

Samer Rabadi's picture
Samer Rabadi
Community Manager at Edutopia
Staff

Google Hangouts will let up to ten people participate in a video chat. That's another way that missing parents/loved ones can still see the show.

Google Hangouts on Air will let you have more viewers, but they're public and maybe inappropriate for privacy reasons.

Ashley Cronin's picture
Ashley Cronin
Digital Resource Curator at Edutopia
Staff

When I was teaching, I made some time each day to write up some notes and reflections about each class. I posted these online and regularly let parents know where they could find this information. They didn't always have the time to look, but when they did, they told me they appreciated knowing what we were working on and what was coming. I think it also gave parents a starting place to have conversations with their children about specific lessons and projects.

Amy Erin Borovoy (aka VideoAmy)'s picture
Amy Erin Borovoy (aka VideoAmy)
Senior Manager of Video Programming, Production, & Curation at Edutopia
Staff

My little one is only 2.5, so I haven't gotten into the public school system yet, but her preschool is already doing a great job keeping parents in the loop with pictures, emails, newsletters, parent partnership committees, etc. I appreciate that they have a variety of ways you can keep in touch or get involved, so whatever your time constraints, you can still connect (and I am a VERY busy mama!). I really like the mindset of sharing the positive, so it's not just when things go wrong that the parent-teacher connection is made.

This article came across my Twitter feed today and I loved the idea:
Four Video Apps To Help Parent/Teacher Communication
http://www.ipadsammy.com/the-dream-of-technology-is-alive-in-education/2...

It presupposes that the teacher has access to tech like a smartphone or tablet to use these apps, but if you've got that in place -- what a fantastic and fun way to share little tidbits from the classroom! Of course, I may be biased 'cuz I love all things video -- they don't call me VideoAmy for nothing!

CampLady's picture
CampLady
Mom of 3, education community manager

One strategy that has worked for our family to help our 3rd grader through a TOUGH transition back into school is developing our relationship with his teacher, admins and staff from the school. When faced with a teacher whom 'everyone just can't stand!' according to kids and parents, it's helped immensely to build a face to face relationship with that teacher. Seeing mom chat up your teacher humanizes BOTH of us, helps the kids see the new teacher as a real person. Watching her laugh in casual conversation can break down the pre-constructed walls in a way that eases transition. Yes, it takes time ... about 8 spare minutes a morning, that I've decided for a few weeks I'm willing to give to help both my son and his classmates successfully relate to their new teacher.

Keith Heggart's picture
Keith Heggart
High School Teacher from Sydney, Australia
Facilitator

One of my favourite way of strengthening home school connections that I have found is by capitalising on parental skills and experiences. For example, in a business studies class I was teaching last year, we invited a father in who worked in one of the banks in the local area. Or when we were talking about poverty in Geography, we invited in one of the parents who works with World Vision.

Martin Richards's picture
Martin Richards
I train educators to use a coaching approach in their teaching practice

An indirect approach

One secondary school teacher I was working with showed me a large wall map that displayed where students lived.
She told me about the journey to the creation of that wall map. It was very interesting in itself because it opened up discussions about "nice" and "rough" places to live, as well as parents making life choices that affected their children. It took plenty of delicate teacher skill to work through the many issues that the making of the map raised, which of course gave great learning for all involved.

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