English Language Learner (ELL) students and families make up a huge portion of today’s society in the US. School leaders are in the position to create a culture of success within their school community. Therefore, it is important for school leaders to involve ELL parents in their children’s educational experience, since parental engagement is crucial for their children’s success in school. With the fall semester just around the corner, we have some back-to-school ELL parent outreach strategies that can be incorporated in any school community.
Connect with ELL Families
A great ELL parent outreach strategy is connecting with ELL families. The best way to serve ELL families is to learn everything possible about the population and their life experiences. Learning about ELL families’ cultures and integrating aspects from various cultural traditions in the school community helps to create a welcoming environment. By making ELL families feel welcomed in the school community, school leaders make personal connections based on trust and communication.
Communication is Key
Communication is one of the most important ELL parent outreach strategies. In order to communicate effectively with ELL parents, school leaders need to find ways to communicate with them, such as using reliable translation services. Additionally, it is important to make the enrollment process as easy to understand as possible by having forms, policies, and programs in the native language of ELL families.
Parent participation is a crucial ELL parent outreach strategy that is oftentimes difficult to achieve because ELL parents do not possess the language skills and social capital necessary to participate in the educational system. School leaders must help erase any negative feelings that ELL parents have about the educational system. The key is to provide opportunities for ELL parents to become better educated about important topics and skills.
The best advice for heading back-to-school is to “think out of the box!” There is no set way to communicate with ELL families, as each culture has it’s own views and norms. The Latino Family Literacy Project offers programs that inform ELL parents about the benefits of parental participation and how their involvement in the education system truly makes a difference in their children’s academic success.