Become an ESL Family Engagement pro! These tips and tricks will help you feel confident welcoming ELL families into your school!
Is increasing ESL family engagement stressing you out?
Let me guess. You know that families are a crucial piece of the education puzzle. You know that family involvement is a key indicator of student success. You know that family involvement can improve everything from reading level to behavior to overall school culture.
You just don’t know how to increase ELL family engagement.
I get it. I’ve been there! Increasing ESL family engagement can feel overwhelming at best and downright impossible at worst. There are language barriers, cultural differences, and, let’s face it, just not enough time in the day for everything else you need to get done!
Luckily, ESL family engagement isn’t impossible, it just takes a bit of planning and consistency! With a little bit of effort, your ELL families will be involved, engaged, and excited to share in their child’s education! You can do this!
Are you looking for ways to involve your students as well as your families? Click here for the 7 step guide to help you fall in love with teaching English Language Learners again.
Lucky for you, we’re teaching in the age of technology! There are so many tools that we can use to communicate with families that translate your messages! That’s right, just type in English and families can read your messages in their home language! My personal favorites are Class Dojo for families of younger students and Remind for families of older students.
A few tips to keep in mind…
Explain, Explain, Explain!
One common barrier English Language Learners face is that their families don’t necessarily know the expectations for involvement in schools. Expectations for families in school vary widely from country to country, so your student’s family might not know what their school wants from them!
When a new ESL student enters your class, take some time to set the expectations and explain your school’s goals up front. This is best done with an interpreter so that families truly understand how you operate!
Here are a few things that are worth explaining in that first conversation:
Provide Opportunities to Volunteer!
Your families might be eager to get involved in their child’s classroom, but might not know how to get started. Providing opportunities to volunteer is a great way to increase ESL family involvement and help families feel connected to the school. Here are some ideas to get you started based on the parent or guardian’s language level.
If the adult speaks no or minimal English…
-Label and/or cover books for your classroom library
-Act as a photographer at events (or in your classroom!)
-Help students clean out their desks
If the adult speaks some English…
-Teach a language lesson in their home language
-Organize a party
-Start a group of families with a common language
-Grade multiple choice quizzes
-Help with classroom projects
If the adult speaks fluent English…
-Communicate school information with other families that speak the same language
-Read to the class
-Help with small groups, especially for English Language Learners
-Proofread school communications in their home language
-Teach a culture lesson
Obviously, the possibilities are endless! These are just a few to get you started.
Host an Event!
Events are a great, fun way to increase family engagement, however, they can sometimes be a little intimidating for ESL families! If you have a large number of ESL families in your class or at your school, consider hosting an event just for them! You can read all about hosting an ESL-Friendly Family Night by clicking here! If you only have a few ESL families in your school community, consider reaching out to them personally before your next school event and offering to act as a guide! Many families will feel more comfortable knowing that there is someone there to help them navigate the event, understand what’s happening, and advocate for them if needed!
Keep Them Updated!
All families love to know what’s happening in their child’s classroom! If you have an ESL Family that is just learning to navigate your school, or who can’t read any printed information that goes home, take a few minutes to update them! (Remember, this will be simple if you use technology that translates!)
Here is a list of times that I like to send an extra update home to the ESL Families in my class:
-Any time there is printed information from the school that is sent home in a language other than their home language (think flyers for events, school pictures, etc.)
-When I send home graded work that has extensive comments, like an essay
-When students perform exceptionally well or unusually poor on an assessment or quiz
-When we change to a new unit (I usually share this to the entire class through an app that translates. You’ll only need a separate message if you send home a traditional newsletter!)
-When there will be a day off or school break
Of course, I always encourage sending positive notes and celebrating the little things as well! The more you can keep your ESL family updated, the more comfortable they will feel getting involved in school!
Love this and looking for more ways to increase engagement in your ESL classroom? Click here to download the free guide that is guaranteed to improve your classroom culture and your student’s confidence!
Increasing ESL family engagement requires consistency, but the results are more than worth the effort!
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