Home-School Connections with Parents of ELL Students

Home-School Connections with Parents of ELL Students

Successful parental engagement for ELL students starts with getting the parents actively involved. Unfortunately, this can be a much tougher obstacle to navigate than one might expect. There are a variety of hindrances in the path to engagement with parents of ELL’s, most of them rooted in a reluctance on the part of parents to connect with teachers due to language or cultural barriers. Others may decline to participate due to their legal status, afraid to come to the school out of concern for being undocumented. The route towards effective, open communication takes initiative on the part of educators and school personnel to invite these parents into the fold and provide a welcoming environment for them to comfortably engage in the learning process of their children. Many of them may not have a very clear grasp of the English language, so they already feel at a disadvantage.

Bilingual and bicultural books for parent and family involvement
The accessibility factor extends to the parents’ schedules as well. A majority of Hispanic families are faced with challenging employment and financial situations. Parents may not have an adequate amount of time to devote to their child’s learning, not borne from an attitude of disinterest, but simply because they are working long hours to put food on the table. Cultural differences also present distinct barriers to successful engagement, as some Hispanic cultures identify teachers as the primary decision-makers when it comes to the education of a child, and parents too often yield their input in lieu of whatever the school deems sufficient. This results in the parents remaining disconnected from the educational development of the student. Again, not something done from a lack of interest or caring, that’s just what their custom dictates.

This is why it’s so important for schools to find ways to get parents of ELL’s to become further engaged with the class curriculum, not just by way of parent/teacher conferences and formal meetings, but instead through routine, casual interactions. Designing a framework to achieve this comes through creating opportunities for parents and children to work together to further not just the student’s grasp of the lessons in English, but to encourage the parent to engage in working towards improving their own understanding of the language. Hispanic parents reading with their children in their native tongue can prove just as beneficial as practicing the use of English together, in and out of the classroom setting. The goal here is to discourage parents from thinking that the home and the classroom are both very separate places, but instead foster a routine that makes education a collaborative effort on the part of parents and teachers alike.

Lectura books provides award-winning bilingual books that are a great tool for teaching English Learner students. The multicultural stories of each book help to engage the parents of ELL students. This encourages more reading and speaking of English at home.

Katherine Del MonteHome-School Connections with Parents of ELL Students