The school should be considered as the place for the construction of new knowledge about families' involvement in their children' school lives, since it is in the school environment that these relationships are fostered.
The knowledge and experiences of teachers, families, and researchers should be respected in their specificity and shared by all.
The school has to allocate enough time for teachers to be engaged in the work, especially for the meetings between the teachers and the researchers.
Trust among all parties is important and takes time to be accomplished.
All the members are engaged in a continuous learning process—including the university-researchers who reconceptualize and reconstruct their roles during the course of the investigation (Cole & Knowles, 1993).
1. Recognize that all parents, regardless of income, education level, or cultural background, are involved in their children’s learning and want their children to do well in school. 2. Create programs that will support families to guide their children’s learning, from preschool through high school. 3. Work with families to build their social and political connections.
4. Develop the capacity of school staff to work with families and community members. 5. Link family and community engagement efforts to student learning. 6. Focus efforts to engage families and community members on developing trusting and respectful relationships.
7. Embrace a philosophy of partnership and be willing to share power with families. Make sure parents, school staff, and community members understand that the responsibility for children’s educational development is a collaborative enterprise. 8. Build strong connections between schools and community organizations. 9. Design and conduct research that is more rigorous and focused, and that uses more culturally sensitive and empowering definitions of family involvement .
Streamline application for basic child medical health provided by state for children includes preventive care including physical exams and immunizations.
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Creates homes people with low incomes can afford. Builds and preserves homes for renters, first-time home buyers and people with special shelter and service needs. Helps other organizations develop the capacity to do the same.
When do children start to develop their racial and cultural awareness and identities?
The Preschool Years (3-4): At this age kids are better at noticing differences among each other. Generally they have learned to do basic classification and sorting based on color and size. Many will start to comment , in words or through actions, on hair texture, eye shape, and other characteristics. At this time a child’s thinking is also limited, distorted, and inconsistent because of this it’s easier for them to believe stereotypes and form pre-prejudices.
Kindergarten (5-6): In kindergarten kids continue to ask questions about physical differences , as well as start to learn the explanations for these differences. They are also starting to develop more social skills and becoming more group-oriented and enjoy exploring the culture of their friends.
The Early Primary Years (7-8): At this age a child has developed racial constancy and understand that a person’s skin color will not wash off or change. They are also learning to grasp the concept that a person can be a member of several different groups. For example, a person can be apart of a family, a classroom, a culture and a race.
Be sure to remove materials and visuals that promote cultural stereotypes.
Display images of all the children and families in your program.
Add toys and materials that reflect the cultures of the children and families in your group. Then expand to include materials that mirror the diversity in the world.
If your group is not diverse, display images of diversity in your community or in U.S. society.
Culturally Diverse Activities that Celebrate Your Class’ Similarities and Differences
Send a questionnaire home to parents to learn about the holidays and traditions important to the families of the children in the class.
Throughout the year, invite parents to come in and talk with children about their celebrations and share photos, videos, children's books, artifacts, and special foods with the class.
Around the World Passport Activity: Create passports with your kids using simple construction paper and a camera. Throughout the year study a different country and add it to your passports.
This story book is a great read for children learning about the world around them. It focuses on the many differenced and similarities in children everywhere. Readers travel around the globe from places such as the Philippines to Tanzania, China, Australia, Canada, Morocco and the U.S, India, Mexico, Japan, and Greece, while meeting children from each who help us learn about their culture.
A wonderful picture book for young ages that captures children from around the world joyfully engaging in common play type activities. “To be a kid means playing ball… running races… or playing a board games.” The overall message of the book enforces the message that the lives, needs, and goals of children the world over are different but similar.
Helps students and their parents overcome their own personal and cultural biases. Having a diverse classroom challenges everyone’s own assumptions and allows them to come together and learn more about one another.
Interacting with peers who come from other areas of the world allows students to become aware of places that would otherwise remain unknown to them.
Being exposed to different languages at a early age and even acquiring a second language has multiple positive effects on a child’s mental development and their overall intellectual growth. Such as enhanced learning abilities in math, reading and critical thinking skills. Leaning another language can also be a whole family activity as both parents and children can learn together.
Through discussion and guest speakers, this class provides parents with information about infant development, safety, nutrition and sleep habits. Class time includes songs, finger plays, sign language and homemade toys. Expectant parents are also welcome.
Class includes discussions of sleep habits, nutrition, toddler development and positive discipline. Class time includes songs, finger plays, sign language and movement.
Parenting the Toddler
Now we’re walking! This class helps parents understand the toddler stage of development. Activities focus on sensory motor development, through the process of discovery and include simple songs, finger plays, crafts, and movement.
Now we’re walking and talking! Gain an understanding of the toddler stage of development and an appreciation of the unique temperament and growing independence of the two-year old. Activities focus on language development through music, movement, play and simple crafts.
Now we’re talking! Class discussions center on learning to appreciate and understand the unique temperament and growing independence of the two year old child. Class activities focus on language development through music, movement, play, and simple crafts.
Three-year-olds have rich imaginations and love to play. Enjoy a morning together with your child in a preschool setting. Class time fosters learning through art, sharing, songs, movement, play and discovery. Parent discussions focus on the social, emotional and intellectual development of the three-year-old child.
Four and five-year-olds are energetic, imaginative and love learning! Enjoy a morning with your child in a classroom setting. The class helps prepare children for kindergarten through learning experiences in art, literature, sharing, music, movement, play and discovery. Parent discussions focus on the social, emotional and intellectual development of the four & five-year-olds.
Now we're making friends! This class focuses on fostering learning experiences for the preschool child through art, sharing, songs, movement, play, and discovery. Parent discussions include growth and development of the preschool child and positive discipline techniques.
This class focuses on parenting more than one child. Parents learn to develop caring and harmonious relationships among family members through specific topic-related discussions and activities that foster sibling bonding. *If the sibling is an infant 0-6 months, you can attend any class and bring the baby along. You don’t need to be in a sibling class yet.
A good place to begin is to document the barriers to parent involvement created by such factors as family structures (dual career, single parent, teenage parent) and family work schedules (full-time, job sharing, flex-time). This can be accomplished through parent-teacher conferences, telephone calls, or a short questionnaire.
Documentation of the barriers to parent participation can be used to develop policies that are likely to work with the parent community. For example, more options may be needed as to when parent-teacher conferences are held (before, during, and after school), how they are held (face-to-face, by telephone, by computer, in small groups), or where they are held (at the school, in the home, at a neighborhood center, or at the parent's place of employment).
Recommendations for parent participation should take into account the resources and expertise of parents. Care should be taken to offer parents a range of support, partnership, and leadership roles. Parents can participate by preparing classroom materials, serving on a committee to select classroom equipment and materials, or becoming a member of a search committee to select personnel. Participation can even extend to parents' leading classroom activities in which they have expertise.
Teachers can include topics that relate to both classroom and family environments when they develop informational newsletters, public relations material, and parent meetings. Family strengths, parent-child communication, childhood stress, and in-home safety all have the potential to affect children's classroom behavior. Of equal importance is the effect of these topics on family well-being. Schools can meet their objectives and serve the interests and needs of families by offering information and educational programs that give parents practical suggestions on topics like these and others.
Plan ahead for parent-teacher conferences. Communicate to parents at the beginning of the year about school policies and services. Inform parents about classroom goals for the year, and give a few examples of what children will be learning. Also let parents know about the frequency and nature of parent-teacher conferences. Once conferences are set, keep a calendar of when, how, and where family contacts are to be made.
For some parents, education today is quite different from what they experienced two or three decades ago. Fear of the unknown may be one reason that parents avoid contact with their child's school . For other parents, school may be intimidating because it reminds them of an unpleasant school experience. Empower parents with confidence by supplying them with a list of questions they can ask teachers throughout the school year.
Create a comfortable conference environment in which parents feel free to share information, ask questions, and make recommendations. Allowing parents to begin the conference by asking their own questions and expressing their own concerns is one way to convey respect for their input. Here are some other ways to share responsibility with parents during the conference:
Schedule an adequate amount of time for the conference so that the parent does not feel rushed.
If the conference is held at the school, point out to the parent the projects that involved his or her child.
Begin and end the conference by noting something positive about the child.
Ask open-ended questions ("How do you help your child with her shyness?") instead of "yes" or "no" questions ("Do you help your child with her shyness?").
Communicate in a way that matches, yet shows respect for, the parent's background. Be careful not to make assumptions about a parent's level of knowledge or understanding, and avoid talking down to parents.
Send nonverbal messages of respect and interest. Sit facing the parent and maintain good eye-contact. Put aside paperwork and postpone taking notes until after the conference has ended.
Instead of offering advice, ask the parent to share feelings and suggestions for addressing an issue. Then offer your own input as a basis for negotiation.
Limit the number of educational objectives set during the parent-teacher conference to those that can reasonably be addressed in a specified time. Break each objective down into simple steps. Assign parents and teachers responsibilities for meeting each objective in the class and home. Plan a strategy for evaluating the objectives from both the parents' and teacher's perspective.
Follow up the parent-teacher conference with a brief note thanking the parents for their participation. This is also a good opportunity to summarize major points discussed during the conference.
Seek advice and assistance from parents in introducing young children to various cultures through the use of stories, holidays, art exhibits, fairs, plays, and other events. Always include in any discussion of cultural differences the ways in which such values as honesty, fairness, loyalty, and industry are shared by all cultures.
Avoid making sweeping generalizations about children from different family backgrounds.
Balance general cultural differences with an assessment of the individual child, and of the child's family and neighborhood environments. Otherwise, sweeping generalizations about children may be based on superficial group characteristics (for example, color of skin or language spoken) rather than on individual strengths and needs.
Periodically review social networks among children . Do certain children segregate themselves through their choice of toys, activities, or play? This issue is an important one, because, as Karnes and her colleagues (1983) found, children from low-income families who are placed in middle-class preschool programs can still be segregated from their peers during classroom activities. Teachers can help all children share classroom experiences by encouraging those children with similar interests to play together or work together on a special project. Children's assignments to small group activities can be periodically rotated to ensure that the children have many opportunities to learn about and from all their classroom peers.
As American families continue to change, programs for young children will need to adopt parent participation programs that reinforce a consistency of early growth and development experiences between children's family and classroom environments. Strong linkages between the school and the home can be ensured when teachers are routinely allowed the time and resources to discuss the impact on school-home relations of the diversity of family structures, backgrounds, and lifestyles found in their classrooms; and develop a range of strategies by which they can involve all families of the young children they teach.
This digest was adapted from the article, "Planning for the Changing Nature of Family Life in Schools for Young Children," by Mick Coleman, which appeared in YOUNG CHILDREN, Vol. 46, No. 4 (May, 1991): pp. 15-20.
The day-to-day reality of many families is different today than a generation ago. Family members spend far less time together and adults often face an on-going struggle to balance the demands of their families and their jobs. While these pressures can cause parents to participate less in their children’s lives, there remains a great need for them to be involved in their children’s education.
Recent studies show that when families are involved in their children’s education in positive ways, the children achieve higher grades and test scores, have better attendance at school, complete more homework, and demonstrate more positive attitudes and behavior. Reports also indicate that families who receive frequent and positive messages from teachers tend to become more involved in their children’s education than do parents who do not receive this kind of communication.
One way to foster children’s learning is through joint efforts involving both families and schools, where parents and teachers share responsibility for creating a working relationship that will help children succeed academically. Following are some suggestions on how to build positive parent-teacher relationships.
As their children’s first teachers, parents and families can:
Read together. Read with your children and let them see you and older children read. When adult family members read to their children or listen to them read on a regular basis, achievement improves. Take your children to the library to get a library card and help them find books to suit their interests and hobbies.
Establish a family routine. Routines generally include time for completing homework, doing chores, eating meals together, and going to bed at an established time. These daily events are important to make life predictable for children and satisfying for all family members. Encourage your child’s efforts and be available for questions while she is engaged in academic work and spend time discussing what she has learned.
Use television wisely. Limit the amount of time children spend watching television and help them choose appropriate programs for viewing. When chosen carefully, some TV programs can help increase interest in learning.
Keep in touch with the school. Stay aware of what your children are learning, what their assignments are, and how they are doing. Make a point of visiting the school and talking with the teachers through parent/teacher conferences or family nights. If you can’t visit, schedule a telephone call to discuss your child’s progress.
Offer praise and encouragement. Parents and families play an important role in influencing a child’s confidence and motivation to become a successful learner. Encourage them to complete assignments and introduce them to outside experiences that will enhance their self-confidence and broaden their interests.
In the effort to connect schools with parents, educators can:
Involve parents in classroom activities. Teachers can let families know how they can be helpful and can ask for their assistance with specific activities. Parents can participate by preparing classroom materials, serving on a committee to select classroom equipment and materials, or sharing information about their careers or hobbies. The more involved parents are in what goes on in the classroom, the more likely they are to understand the teacher’s goals and practices.
Give parents a voice in decisions. Parents’ viewpoints should be considered in making decisions about their children’s schooling. Programs can open options for families to become involved individually and collectively in making decisions about goals and standards for their children.
Plan ahead for parent/teacher conferences. Communicate to parents at the beginning of the school year or semester about school policies and services. Inform them about classroom goals and give a few examples of what the children will be learning.
Foster good communication during parent/teacher conferences. When meeting with family members, create a comfortable environment in which parents feel free to share information, ask questions, and make recommendations. Point out the projects that involved their child and share information in a way that encourages respectful two-way communication. Be careful not to make assumptions about a family member’s level of knowledge, understanding, or interest. Schedule an adequate amount of time for the conference so that parents do not feel rushed.
Family and school represent the primary environments in which young children grow and develop, and good schools value parental involvement. The foundation for good parent-teacher relationships is frequent and open communication, mutual respect and a clear understanding of what is best for each individual child.