Reaching Out to Hispanic Parents to Improve Family Reading & Parent Involvement. Simple to follow suggestions.
Research shows that parent involvement in their children’s education is one of the most important barometers for academic success and increasingly seen as an essential element of a school’s programming, and there is 30 years of support research.
The most important skill that a student can learn is how to read in English. Learning to read becomes the avenue to all other academic skills and successes. Becoming a reader is an easier process when parents are involved. This is especially true for English language learners whose parents are primarily Spanish speakers. In essence, the key to parent involvement for English language learners is to embed family reading in the educational process.
-Create an inclusive and welcoming environment. Parent involvement is an interactive process and is best accomplished by involving the parents in the learning process as much as possible. It’s best to start with informing Hispanic parents about the activities in the classroom and the events at school. Keep in mind that Hispanic parents may sometimes feel left out due to language differences.
-Two-way Communication. It’s good to listen and observe before reaching out. Get a sense of the Hispanic family home culture before communicating. Conveying a sense of respect and interest by listening to parents’ concerns, signals your sincere interest. Once you have a good sense of the home culture and the parents’ hopes and dreams for their children, then begin to communicate with parents every chance you can through bilingual and translated flyers, meetings (both formal and informal), using interpreters, and encouraging an atmosphere of excitement about learning. If the parents are excited about the learning process that enthusiasm will be transmitted to their children.
-Provide instruction and meaningful engagement. It will help to offer instruction, coaching and tips to parents about how they can be involved in their child’s learning process. For educators and teachers the goal is to support parents in their home. Providing meaningful material and coaching with effective strategies, and then discussing the importance of the home environment is crucial in this process.
–Make it a family experience. This method allows parents who speak Spanish to read the same books at the same time with their children who are learning English in school, and provides children the opportunity to practice reading to their parents in English.
Parent involvement and family reading go hand in hand and it only happens when the school is committed to real engagement with Hispanic parents and their children. It’s a two-way process and given the immense amount of research regarding the importance of parent involvement and the fundamental role of reading in education, reaching out to Hispanic families is a must to ensuring academic success for their children.
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