Driving Question: How will you strengthen the home and school connection?
What is appropriate for at-home learning?
Research by the National PTA found that the best predictor of student success is the extent to which families encourage learning at home and involve themselves in their children’s education. Students who attend schools that actively and authentically engage families as partners see greater success both in school and later in life, according to the Carnegie Corporation of New York. Therefore, collaborating with families is a key factor in learning acceleration success.
This section of the PAL will offer
- Key takeaways related to the power of partnership with families
- Curated tips for partnering successfully with families
- Links to additional resources for your review
Why Focus on Home-School Partnerships to Accelerate Learning?
- Families create positive learning environments. Research shows a connection between family involvement and academic achievement. Encouraging family engagement is more than a common courtesy; it’s one of the best ways to create a positive learning environment for every student and support student success.
- Intentional relationship-building empowers parents. Families become more confident in their role as advocates and more engaged in their ability to help their kids become more successful, effective learners when school-family relationships are intentional and involve mutual respect, open communication, and inclusion in decision-making (Joining Together).
- Intentionally designed at-home work can have a targeted impact on students’ learning. Leveraging technology and what we have learned from distance learning, we can make it easier for students to work at grade level from home.
Curated Tips for Partnering with Families
- Ensure that 100% of families connect with their teachers. Set a goal of having each family hear from their child’s teacher at least once per quarter. As your system works towards 100% contact, monitor any disparities in family contact between demographic groups (including racial demographic groups, students with IEPs, multilingual learners, or students who receive free and reduced lunch).
- Get at the heart of what families want and need. Design a survey to better understand what supports families would like to better support their learners. Consider having guardians rate how true statements like these are for them:
- I know whom to reach out to at my child’s school if I have questions or concerns.
- I know how to contact my child’s teacher(s) if I have questions or concerns.
- I feel comfortable reaching out to my child’s teacher(s) if I have questions or concerns.
- The district/network is responsive to my feedback.
- I know whom to contact if my child has a problem accessing their online classes or schoolwork.
- I know how to help my child resolve technology problems when they arise.
- Use and address survey responses. Make sure you address issues raised in the survey and think through common challenges that inhibit parent engagement, like scheduling conflicts or an intimidating atmosphere. Ensure that you respond to what you learn from parents.
- Communicate to parents what children should know and be able to do, and offer training and resources. Many teachers share behavioral expectations, but few take the time to help families understand what their child should know and be able to do. Make academics part of every conversation.
- Consider these family-friendly grade-level learning overviews and roadmap to common core for parents (also available in Spanish).
- Highlight for parents the skills covered in class, along with resources parents can use to review these skills. Sites like Be A Learning Hero offer activities and tools for families; Clave al Éxito (Key to Success) helps Spanish-speaking parents engage in their children’s education.
- Consider hosting workshops or recording videos explaining classroom content before it is covered and explain how parents can effectively support student learning both at home and in the classroom.
- Communicate to parents how they can support their child’s academic progress:
- Support strong school attendance: Here are sample emails and tools to engage families around attendance.
- Ensure students complete their assignments.
- Encourage students to form study groups and learn with peers. Study groups can be a great way to share learning, and address misconceptions in a group.
- Help parents understand academic data so they understand when their child is on target or when they are behind. This will help them engage with teachers in the latter case. Here is how one school is sharing data with parents.
- Encourage families to ask questions about what students are learning. Questioning is a great tool families can use to deepen understanding and engage their kids. Here are some sample questions about books.
- Leverage existing systems like student support teams to support the parent-teacher partnership. Make sure your SST process is not just a screener for special education but an authentic parent partnership opportunity to talk about learning gaps and tools.
- Personalize homework and leverage tech. Make use of blended learning strategies like playlists and personalized learning plans to adapt learning at home to the needs of students while also making it easier for families to know what students are learning.