Families come in many forms. A good rapport with parents, siblings, and grandparents can make all the difference in building a classroom and school community. Here are some creative suggestions for reaching out to families through conferences, special events, and volunteer opportunities. Our contributors also share the challenges of communicating with parents, and what they've learned when they've failed to connect.
Here's a terrific idea for building the home/school reading connection and involving parent groups in literacy. Andrea Smith shares the nuts and bolts of the Tuesday Trading Post, a schoolwide book exchange.
Parents of young children may be drawn to text tied to movies or other pop culture filler books. Trish Prentice shares a letter she sends home to families to encourage even the youngest learners to find books and authors with a little more staying power.
Kindergartners may be too young for reading interviews early in the fall, but Mandy Robek finds spring reading interviews are an excellent bridge to families and summer reading suggestions.
Here are some suggestions from Choice Literacy Contributors of the best ways to close out the year, with everything from personal organizing tips to family events.
Andrea Smith writes about how our instincts as parents and teachers merge to make it so hard to say goodbye at the end of the school year.
Choice Literacy readers share their favorite gifts for students to make and take home at the end of the year.
Choice Literacy readers share more of their favorite end-of-year gifts for students to make and take home.
Choice Literacy readers share their favorite end-of-year activities that circle back to events from the start of the school year.
If you’re nervous about working with English language learners, Stella Villalba has some reassuring advice for you.
The connections we make with students and families are what we remember most when all is said and done. Trish Prentice has thoughts on what changes a respected teacher into a beloved teacher.
Parents want to contribute, but not all contributions are welcome or even helpful when it comes to teaching children how to read and write. Trish Prentice has suggestions for making the most of family skills and willingness to help.
Julie Johnson explains how a family history inquiry project in her first-grade classroom builds technology, literacy, and research skills as students explored many cultures. This article is the second in a two-part series.
What is the starting point for building community in a preschool classroom where almost every child speaks a different first language than their teacher? Melissa Kolb writes about how she gently guides her preschool students early in the year.
Andie Cunningham considers the diversity in how “families” are defined in children’s literature, as well as how some newer books can support children with lesbian or gay parents in our new booklist.
How can teachers use assessment data in conferences with parents, without overwhelming them with information? Clare Landrigan and Tammy Mulligan recommend a "data snippets" approach.
Discussions with parents of precocious young readers can be tricky. Clare Landrigan and Tammy Mulligan have some tips for these conferences.
How do we create schools and communities where everyone is passionate about reading and writing? Shari Frost has practical advice for teachers and school leaders.
Stella Villalba shares her favorite bilingual (English/Spanish) books for helping young English language learners feel at home in new classrooms early in the year.
Clare Landrigan and Tammy Mulligan remind us that our own children are often our best teachers. Here they share all they learned from their children during a summer of writing together.
No matter how many education methods courses and professional development workshops you take, if you’re a parent, your children will always teach you the most about how students learn. Tammy Mulligan shares three practical strategies for reaching struggling readers that she learned from experiences with her son.
What's the value of reading at home? Mandy Robek ponders the home/school connection.
Readers enjoyed Mandy Robek's explanation of her move to home reading logs in a calendar format, and some wrote in with additional questions about the program. Mandy provides a follow-up article in a question and answer format, addressing issues raised by readers.
Kelly Petrin’s meditation phrase for the day—Do not fret; it only leads to evil—guides her through a home visit with a parent who worries about her daughter’s literacy skills. This is a terrific short read for thinking through how to make encounters with parents less stressful.
"School is not summer camp" – this quote reminds Mandy Robek that there are many challenges to building a strong classroom community in the midst of demands for achievement and accountability early in the year. Her "literacy jackdaw" project is a terrific vehicle for classmates to learn about each other, and hone their listening, speaking, and writing skills in the process.
Clare Landrigan and Tammy Mulligan write about how to share the research base and goal of producing lifelong readers with families in understandable terms. The article includes a handout to share at parent meetings.
Clare Landrigan and Tammy Mulligan provide some sports analogies to share with families when talking about reading growth. The article includes a handout of prompts parents can use to spark discussions about books with their children.
Helping volunteers understand the importance of listening to young learners is one of Andie Cunningham’s goals. Here she gives tips for preparing volunteers to confer with children.
In this brief video, Melissa Kolb explains "Book Time" in her preschool class. It's a time when many volunteers read books informally to small groups of children in their home languages.
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