As we draw closer to the end of the 2019-2020 school year, you may feel anxious about how to support parents leading up to the summer break. Many parents have felt the need to over-fill their children’s schedules with educational activities to make up for the loss of classroom instruction this spring. As a school leader, this is your chance to shift parents’ focus away from forced academic assignments and toward opportunities which can foster a love of learning in their students.
Last week, we offered advice to help you educate parents about how the break from school can support executive function development. Here are three more ways you can support parents leading up to the summer break:
Offer reassurance that children can grow in their learning without academic assignments.
As you draft your end-of-year letter to parents, keep in mind that every parent and guardian comes from a unique background. Some have been raised by strict “tiger mothers” while others have always believed warmth and unconditional love are the most important gifts to give their children. Your best chance of reaching all parents is by providing easily digestible evidence that their children need to develop a love of learning this summer.
Dr. Denise Pope, a Senior Lecturer with Stanford University’s Graduate School of Education, encourages parents to “[t]hink about how to help your kids continue to develop skills rather than trying to re-create school content”. She specifically recommends parents focus on skills including:
- Problem solving
- Positive coping
Make things easier for parents by recommending relevant activities that inspire curiosity and a love of learning.
Even though parents may fully buy into the idea that they need to foster a love of learning in their students, they may not have the time or knowledge about how to research activities which help develop the skills listed above. You can support parents by providing a concise list of fun learning activities their kids may enjoy. Avoid overwhelming parents and guardians with too many suggestions by organizing activities into broad categories that help develop each skill. Here are some examples:
Fun Learning Activities to Help Develop Reading Skills
- Reading self-selected books — Students will be more enthusiastic about reading if they have the freedom to select their own reading materials… Even if these materials aren’t “regular” books. Encourage parents to let children read comic books, graphic novels, plays, magazines, and other formats they enjoy.
- Reading aloud — Remind parents that reading aloud is beneficial for all students, including older children. Reading aloud helps students learn more vocabulary and offers parents the opportunity to support comprehension and critical thinking skills by asking questions like, “Do you think he made the right choice?” and “What do you think will happen next?”
- Listening to audio books — Audio books offer a great alternative to reading during long car rides, for students who have dyslexia, and any other time students are looking for a change of pace. Epic! is a mobile app full of K-12 audiobooks, and they offer a free two-month trial for new accounts.
Fun Learning Activities to Help Develop Problem Solving Skills
- Household chores — Encourage parents to turn household chores into problem solving opportunities. What categories can you use to organize your toys into ten different bins? How can you put away clean laundry so it’s easier for you to decide what to wear each morning? What is the best way to clean your bathroom mirror without leaving streaks?
- Self-selected volunteer projects — While younger students may need parents to provide some service options for them to explore, older students can research service opportunities they feel passionately about through websites like org, dosomething.org, and the Points of Light website. Volunteering helps students learn about real world issues and how they can contribute toward meaningful solutions.
- Board and card games — Games like Yahtzee, Carcassonne, and Settlers of Catan require players to think ahead as they develop their game strategy. Players also have to adjust their strategy as unexpected changes occur throughout the game.
Check out some of our other articles to help equip parents to foster a love of learning in their students: