Parents want to know how their child is doing academically. Schools can often feel pressure about the best ways to share this information without overburdening teachers or current systems. There is hope. There are simple ways schools can share academic progress information. Also, parents can be an important resource for schools in getting academic information.
- Make sure at least one work product is going home in key subjects every week: There are many artifacts of a student’s academic experience that can be shared. These can include notes from class, a student’s written work, a math problem set, a book they are reading in class, or tests. This type of information gives parents some insight about how their kids are doing – and gives parents a point of conversation to ask their child about what they are doing or learning in school. The more frequently you can do this the better (as much as daily is helpful).
- Send home progress reports bi-weekly or monthly. This is a formal progress report with a grade – what we’re all accustomed to. It is also the most complex and time intensive of the options. For it to truly be accurate, it requires there has been some grading of homework, tests, and classwork. Therefore, a true downside of regular progress reports is it is time intensive for a teacher and school. The upside is parents don’t have to wait until the halfway point in the semester to know their kid is doing well or isn’t doing well and when done properly it gives the most holistic picture of a child’s performance.
- Give parents a guide for how to look at homework: If your school’s students have homework regularly, and homework is aligned with what students are learning, parents can really use homework as a way to assess their child’s academic progress. If the homework is, for example, math problem sets and kids should be able to easily and correctly do 4 of them, parents can know that there is a problem if their child can only do 1 of them.
- Provide parents with optional at-home tools, resources, diagnostics or sample tests: If parents have diagnostic or sample tests at home, they can actually assess students themselves. Give parents a fast facts worksheet they can send home, and let them know how many multiplication facts their 4th grader should be able to do in 3 minutes. Send home a grade level text and suggest parents have their kids read it out loud.Now a special note – these resources don’t just have to be at grade level! Parents may want to see if their 3rd grader can tackle 5th grade math. Or they want to see if their 3rd grader who was once on a 1st grade level can now read at a 2nd grade level.
Once parents are an empowered partner in knowing how their kid is doing academically, you also set them up to engage. They can share back with you how their kid is doing. The school doesn’t have to be the sole holder of knowledge. It doesn’t just have to be the school telling parents that their kid needs support, parents can tell the school that their kid needs additional support.
Teachers have 25-200 students. Parents typically have 1-8 kids. The burden of a teacher or school having – and communicating – real time information about student progress isn’t always easy. Enlisting parents helps.
ADDENDUM: Quick note for supporting parents with language or educational barriers: Some parents, particularly those for whom English isn’t their first language, sometimes say they struggle to know how their kids are doing. Some tips they have shared of how they navigate this is:
– sending their child to an after-school program and asking them to help facilitate some of the assessments
– asking a translator to reach out to teachers to ask for updates on academic progress
– using Google translate in both directions to try to maximize their understanding.
As you are also working to support parents and engage parents in their child’s academic progress, we wanted to share some of these tips and tricks also. To get more tips and tricks, sign up at possipit.com/contact
And if parents want additional resources to see what your kid should know, visit here: https://www.pta.org/home/family-resources/Parents-Guides-to-Student-Success