There are many ways that educators can connect with families of English learners and keep that communication strong. Regular communication can be challenging to figure out, but in many cases, it can make a tremendous difference in students’ learning.
Here are some tips from NEA, many of which are based on lessons learned during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Keep contact information updated
It’s essential that schools have accurate contact information for families. Understanding why families’ contact information might change, how they prefer to update that information, and how the school can make it easier for them to do so can go a long way in helping everyone stay connected.
Find out how families prefer to communicate
Each family will have their own preferences on how to communicate, although there may be some similarities among families from particular communities who are using the same methods. The more you know about how families wish to communicate, the more successful your communication will be.
Find out when families are able to communicate
The better you know your families, the more you can learn about their schedules and each family’s situation during the pandemic.
Identify your translation options
If you don’t know what your translation options are, contact English learner educators or administrators from your school or district to find out more.
Look for ways to build relationships
The school-family partnership is a two-way street—just as schools have important information they want to convey to families, families have important information about their children and questions they want ask of schools. This partnership is not born overnight, and it may take time to build trust. However, by working steadily on aspects listed above, schools can increases their chances for success, especially when they make it a priority to make families feel welcome and build school-family partnerships.
Ask families what has worked (or not) so far
In some cases during the pandemic schools were unable to reconnect with families. In others, families were contacted by so many different people that they got overwhelmed. Finding out what their experiences were will help to plan future communication.