The start of a new school year requires a lot of time and preparation in order for educators to build relationships with students. The idea of engaging parents as well can seem overwhelming — but the effort can make all the difference in student achievement and our success as teachers. As a former elementary teacher in the South Bronx, I saw firsthand how much it helped build trust with my families right from the start.
Why is this ongoing communication with families so important? According to Learning Heroes’ national report Parents 2018: Going Beyond Good Grades, nine in ten parents think their child is at or above grade level in reading and math. Yet, only 39% of teachers report their students start the year prepared for grade level work according to a national study commissioned by Scholastic. Parents 2018 also revealed that more than half of teachers say parents rely too much on grades alone and that the best way parents can track their child’s achievement is by having ongoing communication with teachers, yet we know that doesn’t happen as much as we’d all like it to.
There is good news, though! There are plenty of research-based resources you can use to help parents better understand their child’s progress so they can best support learning at home. Learning Heroes, a nonprofit organization that informs and equips parents to support their child’s academic and developmental success, has created ready-to-use tools (in both English and Spanish) for key points during the school year.
For example, the Super 5: Back-to-School Power Moves, gives parents five simple actions they can take to start the school year strong as well as more resources from the new Learning Hero Roadmap, an interactive guide on the social, emotional, and academic topics most important to families.
Here are ideas on how to use the Super 5 as well as other Learning Heroes resources as part of your family outreach.
- Online: Post bealearninghero.org on your Edmodo page, school/class website, portal, or include it as a resource in your parent newsletters.
- Send Home: Download and print the tip sheets to send home with students. Post them on your bulletin board in your classroom and share them as a resource in Edmodo.
- In-person: Give them out parent events, workshops, and home visits. After School, library and community organizations can share them at events as well.
By engaging and building trust with parents right from the start, you are helping them realize their potential as their child’s learning hero — which we know is critical to student achievement and teacher success.