As kindergarteners settle into the routine of riding school buses and spending full days in school learning, parents may want to think about how they will be involved during and outside of the school day. With a primary goal of “Academic Success for All,” U-46 relies on a strong partnership between schools and families. The District provides a range of parent involvement opportunities, as do schools and classroom teachers. Being aware of these opportunities and the importance of taking advantage of them is critical.
Research clearly shows that when parents are engaged with their children’s learning and with the school, they do better in terms of academics and attendance and show stronger social and emotional skills. Parents who have limited time because of work and other commitments should not be discouraged. For parent involvement to have an impact, it does not have to include volunteering in classrooms or attending school or district meetings.
When parents talk to their children about school projects or how they spent their day, that is a form of engagement. When parents help their children learn to regulate their behavior or better express themselves, that is, too — even if it’s not happening in a school.
That communication piece is key. Parents and teachers alike should spend the beginning of the school year getting to know how the other most prefers to communicate. Whether it is by text message, phone call, email or written note, developing a process early ensures problems can be resolved quickly throughout the year.
When it comes to deciding how else to get involved, U-46 parents and guardians have many options to consider. Schools offer their own parent engagement events throughout the year, and early childhood sites, outside agencies, and partners host opportunities to discuss parenting strategies. Parent-Teacher Organizations (PTOs) or ParentTeacher Associations (PTAs) typically meet monthly. At the District level, the Citizens’ Advisory Council, Bilingual Parent Advisory Council, African-American Advisory Council and the Parent Group Network aim to offer parents a voice and a window into District operations.
A program designed specifically for immigrant parents called "Navigating the American Education System" highlights the expectations and inner workings of schools in the U.S. A program known in Spanish as “Plazas Comunitarias” provides education and information specifically for Spanish-speaking members of the community.