This is the second of three articles about building bridges between the school and home/community. Read the first post here.
In my early years working in an urban school district, I had caregivers come to me all the time asking for ways to help their kids at home after school. These parents had varied education backgrounds, and I had to get really creative so I could meet the needs of some of my families. Some parents were homeless, spoke a language other than English, worked multiple jobs, or were stay-at-home and could only meet me in school (where I tutored) during after hours. How could I make sure to meet the needs of all these families without burning out or being time/resource consuming? Below are some tips to give caregivers and to keep families involved and invested in your student's learning process.
Expand the idea of what reading means. Although reading stories are great, you use the skill in most things we do on a daily basis. In addition to physical books, newspapers, and magazines, use whatever resources are available. From a family favorite recipe to street signs and weekly store ads, use these as opportunities to build the child's vocabulary and reading skills. Don't be afraid or apprehensive to technology, either. Ebooks, such as those you ca find on Big Universe's website, are a great way to connect your interests with the information read on your device. You can share your child's progress with families as well through the quiz results we have.
Start a conversation. Get to talking with your kids about the things they read, whether it's a cereal box or the latest book by your author. Asking questions and sharing your response lets children know how much you value their thoughts and reading overall.
Play on! The games can be as simple or complex as your child can handle. Phonics board games, trivia-style games, fill-in-the-blank games, even flash card games are all great ideas to start with. Many of these can be made at home with paper, writing materials, and a few clicks online. I've even taken some traditional games, such as Red Light, Green Light, and turned them to reading games kids can play. Kids love to decorate or help out with the process, so make this a family--or playdate if a few classmates come--affair!
Create a culture of reading in your home...or wherever you are! I've had parents who had demanding jobs but would have their kids read while commuting to/from school. Other parents would bring their kids to work with them and read or engage with them during breaks or slow times. Some of my parents had traditional reading times each day in the morning, after school/work, or before bed. Let parents know that it's okay to practice reading strategies with their children each day, whether it's 10 minutes or an hour.
What are ways you like to reach out to families to help them support their child's learning?