In Amada Ripley’s book THE SMARTEST KIDS IN THE WORLD, one of the most interesting findings was that what parents did at home mattered significantly. Reading to children and talking about school was very important. Parents showed their children they valued education by asking about school, what they learned, what they liked, etc. Parents who modeled reading also had a positive impact.
Here are a few tips to encourage parents to communicate with their children about school.
Make daily journals for students by putting white paper in a pocket folder. At the end of each day students draw what they learned and dictate or write a sentence to go with their drawing. The journal goes home each evening so children can discuss what they did at school with their parents. The parents sign the journal, write comments or compliments, and return it the following day.
Make copies of the attached conversations starters. (Adapt them to your age level and curriculum.) Cut them apart and put them in a bag. Children draw one as they leave at the end of the day and give it to their parents to prompt a discussion about what they did.
Hint! One school suggested that parents "turn it off" in the car when they picked up their child. The quiet time might encourage children to talk about school because they'd know they had their parent's undivided attention.
Screen Time Survey
Ask parents to keep a log of how much time their child spends in front of a screen for a week. The following week ask them to “turn it off” and spend an equal amount of time reading, playing games, doing chores around the house, etc. with their child.
Run off brain tickets similar to the one below. To earn a brain ticket children need to tell the teacher one new thing they learned at the end of each day. Explain to the parents that their job is to ask their child what she learned to earn the ticket. (I did a blog on this July 22, 2015, with a download for the tickets.)
Send home a reading calendar at the beginning of each month. Parents and children can color in an object for each 5-10 minutes of reading. Make sure calendars are returned at the end of each month. (You can download these on my website.)
Cheers and Goals
Before conferences ask parents to write down three “cheers” (positives) about their child and three "goals" that they have for their child. Explain what you will try to do to help their child accomplish the goals and then ask them what they can do to help their child accomplish the goals.