Creating the climate for family learning at school
Schools, teachers, and parents are all concerned with family engagement that supports children’s learning. And all three are essential when establishing positive learning climates for families—at home and at school. Family-friendly schools and classrooms make an intentional effort to invite family engagement. They strive to create a family-friendly environment that contributes to effective communication, relationship building, engagement in learning, and parent leadership. Teachers also work to provide support for parents, to better engage their children in learning at home.
But sometimes getting parents to come to school, or to attend family events, is difficult. Often parents will say that they want to help their children learn and grow academically, but they don’t know how or find it difficult to take that first step.
Here are some questions for teachers and schools to consider to better engage families.
Does your school or classroom say “Welcome” to families? It might seem like a no-brainer but welcoming parents as they enter sets an inviting tone and can make them feel valued. Ensure that your school entrance easily accessible. Greet and welcome parents when they come to your classroom door and consider whether your classroom should have an open-door policy.
Have you asked parents what would make them more comfortable in your classroom or school? Simple things, such as having adult-sized chairs available in classrooms, can help parents feel more at ease. Visual displays in classrooms and schools that reflect the families of your school community can help parents feel part of the community. Post photos of families, cultural artifacts, and photos of family events, for example.
Do you provide support for parents in creating a learning climate, and setting learning expectations, at home? Strive to make provisions for providing information (flyers, handouts, workshops, voice messages, e-mail, etc.) in ways that all parents can understand. Conduct parent workshops, family nights, or other activities to share information and strategies with parents at times that meet their needs. Need guidance? Cultivating Readers is a free resource that provides tips in English and Spanish for parents to grow reading skills in their children from birth to age eight. The resource also comes with an event guide designed to help schools and community-based organizations host successful family learning events, using Parent and Child Together (PACT) Time® as a key component. Explore Healthy Family Habits for step-by-step guides for hosting four different intergenerational events tied to healthy living. This resource is available in English and Spanish and everything is available free-of-charge.
These are just a few ways to create a climate for family learning at school. We want to hear from you. What do you do in your schools to create a family friendly environment?
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