Building Relationships with Parents and Caregivers
from February 13, 2019
On February 13, language teachers from grades K-8, and beyond, met for the biweekly EarlyLang chat. Participants discussed how they build rapport with parents and other adults in early learners’ lives, strategies to help these adults to understand language acquisition, and the importance of empowering them to advocate for early language programs.
Q1: How do you build a positive rapport from the beginning with the adults in your #earlylang learners’ lives?
As in so many things, communication is key. Specifically clear and regular communication. Participants mentioned the importance of Back to School night as a means to opening a dialogue with parents. Other means of contacting parents include phone calls, home visits, and messages through email, Classdojo, or Seesaw. Whatever the means, it is important to be engaging and transparent and to take any opportunity to make contact with families.
Q2: How do you help these caregivers understand how children acquire language and what that means for your #earlylang class?
Several participants use infographics such as those in this blog post https://t.co/qoMpBn8IwQ and this pathway to proficiency https://tinyurl.com/y557hubm. Other strategies include putting an overview of the language program on the school website, send home information on what the class is doing and why, have students share their learning through capstone projects, and even invite parents for demo lessons.
Q3: How can caregivers support #earlylang learners in class and at home, even when they don’t speak the Target Language?
@NathanLutz “This is a tricky one. Ps often ask for resources – and I try to suggest ones with lots of audio inputs to allow Ss the opportunity to HEAR the language.”
@MaCristinaRV “If the parents or caregivers don’t speak the T2, I recommend language learning apps, YouTube channels, educational video programs, music playlists and apps like Epic! which have features. Also, setting up playdates w/children who speak the T2.”
@MllesrtaUrso “I have long suggested @duolingo for kids to practice outside of school. I also list the YouTube channels I use in class so that kids can watch on their own.”
@MundodePepita “The most important thing for me: have caregivers express support for the program & their child’s learning TO THE CHILD. Expressing an interest in what their child is doing gives their kiddo confidence & motivation to continue learning.”
@Doriecp “My local library also has some good language learning resources other than books. Some are paid for subscriptions that families can access for free with their library card. It’s worth checking to see if your libraries have access to anything.”
Q4: How can we inform the adults in our #earlylang learners’ lives about classroom news, events, and learner progress?
Since many of the language teachers are the only ones in their schools, it can be difficult to maintain consistency in communication. In that case, team up with other teachers to add to a classroom or school-based newsletter. Some schools have a course management system, teachers can add photos or other messages to inform parents. Many teachers have accounts on Classdojo, Seesaw, or Google, all of which can be used for information and to allow students to post their work for parents and caregivers to see. For concerns regarding grades or behavior, phone calls are still the primary means of communication.
Q5:How can we empower these important stakeholders to become advocates for #earlylang programs?
Parents and caregivers feel empowered when they feel like partners in their children’s education. To ensure they feel this, it is important for teachers to honor their varied cultural backgrounds. Showing them what their students can do linguistically, both in and out of school, is also empowering. In addition, educating parents on the importance of language learning and its positive effects will encourage them to advocate for their children and the language program. Lead with Languages (https://t.co/HCFOB1h2vm) includes tools for such advocacy.
It’s reflaction (reflection + action) time! What will you communicate to caregivers this week as a result of tonight’s #earlylang chat?
Several participants posted responses. One wants to use Seesaw in the future. Another plans to be more consistent in adding to the school newsletter. Still another will create an email blast to bring more parents to a festival in which students research countries and prepare food to share.
Thank you to all who participated in this #EarlyLang chat! Thank you to our lead moderator, Dorie (@doriecp), and our co-moderator, M Cristina Rdz-Villa (@MaCristinaRV), for helping to guide the conversation. Thanks also to EMC School (@EMCSCHOOL) for sponsoring tonight’s chat.
Want to vote for our upcoming #Earlylang topics? https://t.co/l1VbHqzLU1