Hameray Classroom Literacy Blog

Family Literacy: Parental Involvement, Part 2

This week, we're focusing on the role of  parental involvement in children's literacy , presenting ideas for Family Literacy Workshop activities, taken from  Family Literacy Workshops   for Preschool through Grade 6: A Research Based Approach . In yesterday's post, we looked at the structure of a workshop and why such workshops are important. You can read that post and download the in-workshop activity  here . Today, we will go over a sample workshop agenda and provide two free, downloadable take-home activities for parents to complete with their children, one which is meant to be an at-home continuation of the in-workshop activity provided yesterday, and different one called  Make a Family Book .

The way that the activities in the book are structured is that each chapter in the book is devoted to a single-topic workshop and contains one in-workshop activity and four take-home activities. Examples of the workshop topics include "The Home-School Connection" (the one we'll be looking at this week), "Reading With Your Children," and "Helping with Homework." It is set up so intending for there to be ten workshops over the course of a school year, but your needs and application may vary. Here is a sample agenda from the  first  workshop, in which you familiarize parents with the way that the workshops will be conducted. The text is taken from the book.

Description and Discussion of Agenda Items

Welcome the parents and discuss the family literacy objectives
Key points that might be covered in the welcome:
  • How the family literacy program is different from typical school events.
  • Our major objective is to develop a partnership between teachers and parents that will support the academic success of the children.
  • Parents should be told that they are welcome at the school and that their participation is valued. The success of the program is dependent on their commitment.
  • Remember that the focus of this welcome should be the parents, and the importance of their involvement.

Discussion of attendance and participation at all the workshops

This discussion should include the important fact that the workshops build upon one another, and attendance at each session is important.

Parents should understand that the workshops are going to be activity based, include the whole family, and are designed to be informal and enjoyable.

Review the theme of each of the workshops

Review of the sessions should include information about all of the important ways that parents can support their children at home throughout the school year.

The first workshop focuses on developing the home-school connection.  Five of the workshops are specifically directed at reading. Two of the workshops target oral language and vocabulary. One workshop is designed to support writing in the home. The last session will be a celebration of the parents’ efforts throughout the year.

Set the calendar for the year

Be prepared to announce the day and time for each session.

Review the expectation that in addition to the monthly workshop, there are activities that need to be completed at home.

Review the classroom and school rules

Be prepared to explain to parents how each of the school rules directly supports academic success for all students.

Help parents understand that their support of the school rules is important for helping their children be successful at school.  They do not necessarily have to have the same rules at home, but just support the rules at school.

Parents should be given a copy of the school rules.

Note: Remembering that these sessions should be activity-based, this would a good opportunity to give parents some time to discuss the rules and develop any questions they might have about them. Encourage parents to talk in groups of three or four to those closest to them about the school rules, how they might be different from rules in the home and whether they have any questions.

Review the rules for visitors

This should be presented not as strict rules, but more as a way of helping parents understand what they can expect when they come to campus.

The importance of the rules to their child's learning should be reviewed.

Review the homework policy

Remind parents that Workshop 3 will focus on homework and ways that they can support homework at home.

This discussion is only intended to let parents know what they should expect in terms of homework.

  • Is there homework every night?
  • When is it due?
  • What does the homework typically consist of?
  • Is there a homework website or other resources for parents?
  • What can they do if there is a question or problem?

Distribute and discuss the take-home activities

Distribute take-home activities, and let the parents know that they are being given activities to complete at home and that they should bring the activities back to the next session.

  • Same or Different?   (download below)
  • Make a Family Book   (download below)
  • Envelope Stories   (download available on Friday)
  • Reporting Live From…   (download available on Friday)

Workshop Activity

This is a fun activity called   Same or Different?   that can help set the pattern for future workshops.  It is also an opportunity to observe how parents work with their children and for you to provide encouragement and guidance.  The activity has two parts.  One is to be completed at the workshop and the same activity is to be taken home and completed by the family.   The portion to be done in the workshop is available for download on yesterday's post:   click here !

On Friday, we will look into what it takes to develop an exemplary literacy program, and you will be able to download the remaining two take-home activities. For today's downloads, click the workshop images below!

- Tara Rodriquez