This week, the annual ESEA Conference is underway in my hometown of Indianapolis.
As part of the conference, I stopped at a reception to say hello to my friend, family engagement expert, and enthusiast, Dr. Steve Constantino.
Side note: If you ever have the chance to hear Dr. Constantino…go. He’s amazing!
The reception was hosted by a non-profit called Waterford. Waterford works to provide educational resources for children and families to help close achievement gaps. Dr. Constantino has partnered with Waterford to help the non-profit build on the work it does around family engagement.
Waterford focuses on Pre-k through third grade. And while I was listening to the reception presentations, it occurred to me…
Why don’t we take the school-home communication practices from Pre-K and infuse them throughout a student’s career?
Here are the top 5 reasons why I think we should:
1. In Pre-K, communications center around the whole child.
Think about it…in Pre-K, we organically talk with teachers about the “whole child.” We’re often concerned less about whether our kids know the colors and more about whether they are learning how to play with others, managing their frustrations, and focusing on curiosity and happiness.
2. In Pre-K, teachers and parents meet face-to-face on a more regular basis.
Every day in Pre-K, I picked up my child at the classroom door. I was able to have rich, daily check-ins with teachers. I knew what and how my kids were doing that day and I was able to naturally extend and reinforce that learning at home.
3. In Pre-K, communications are clear, concise, and compassionate.
Pre-K learning is serious stuff. But when teachers talk with parents about that learning, they are much less likely to use big words, acronyms, and complicated jargon. And, they are much more likely to be warm, friendly, and understanding. This allows for more effective communication.
4. In Pre-K, communication is two-way.
Pre-K teachers are not just checking the “I communicated” box by sending home newsletters, Friday folders, and permission slips. They do those things, but they also know the value in creating spaces that allow for parent sharing. I can remember filling out quite a few “tell me about your child” forms in Pre-K, but by middle school they were non-existent.
5. In Pre-K, teachers seek out parent expertise and vice-versa.
In Pre-K, teachers don’t wait for parents to push in. They know they need information like the interests and backgrounds of their students, but they also need to know practical stuff about Pull Ups and sleep habits. And, let’s face it, anyone who has cared for a young child has had those moments when they feel they have no idea what they are doing. In those moments, parents are more likely to reach out to teachers for help. This sharing creates strong partnerships and keeps lines of communication open.
Research shows parents are never more engaged than the day they drop their children off on their first day of school. That engagement drops off in middle school and again in high school.
Maybe we can prevent that drop-off by using some of these school-home communication practices from Pre-K to create seamless transitions for parents…one that keep them engaged at all levels of education and one that honors their expertise.
Interested in learning more about best practices in school-home communication? Download my free playbook, or reach out to me and let’s schedule a time to talk.