June 6, 2022
By Aleta Margolis, Founder and President, Center for Inspired Teaching
Hooray for Monday is a weekly blog filled with questions, ideas, reflections, and actions we can all take to remodel the school experience for students.
You’ve just spent the last 10 months engaging children in learning despite the tsunami of unexpected challenges year 2 of the pandemic hurled our way. You are tired, and you are ready for parents to take their turn keeping these young minds active and hooking their curiosity.
The challenge is that we’ve spent years learning how to do that with dozens of children (all at the same time!), and parents, well, they’re still muddling through the learning process with the one or few they live with.
The work we do as teachers is HARD, and summer is when parents get a little taste of the difficulty. As teachers, we have a whole toolkit of ways to deal with the challenges that arise in a typical day with a child. Most parents do not. They can try and crowdsource the best way to deal with a tantrum, but at the end of the day, the process involves a lot of experimentation, trial, and error. And the errors erode relationships, increase frustration, and decrease motivation to learn with the one person they don’t get a break from when 3 PM rolls around.
That’s why behavior charts pop up on refrigerators this time of year and TV time increases exponentially – anything to keep the kids occupied and out of trouble. But that’s also why our students lose ground over the summer. Enriched learning takes skill. And parents haven’t been taught how to do it.
So what if this summer we share some of the secrets of the profession – the ways we:
- strengthen relationships with our students in order to lessen their need for acting out;
- engage students in meaningful tasks that help them build independence, focus, and perseverance;
- set expectations for open communication and mutual respect.
What might that accomplish for our students over the summer? What might that accomplish for the parents themselves?
But, you may be thinking, I haven’t got time to teach parents! Good news, you don’t have to. Inspired Teaching has just created a compact but useful Resilient Summer Handbook that incorporates the ideas discussed above and many others into a series of short articles and learning activities parents can use with children of any age.
Most schools give summer reading packets to children. This is summer reading you can give to parents. This workbook draws heavily from Hooray for Monday content, offering parents a window into the thinking and instructional approach Inspired Teachers employ with their children every day.
Creating a common language with parents for how we strengthen relationships with children and what we expect them to know and be able to do paves the way for better partnerships with families when school resumes. How wonderful would it be if our students came back to us in the fall having spent the summer engaging their Intellect, Inquiry, Imagination, and Integrity? This workbook can help!
Wishing you a lovely week ahead.
4 Ways to Teach Parents Our Secrets
- Create a list of 2-3 things you’ve learned about each child you teach that have helped you reach them this year. Share these with their parents. You may have learned things they don’t know! You don’t have to get this done before school is out. Sending a note with these discoveries a few weeks into the summer will be a delight for parents who are in need of a boost of inspiration.
- Pull together a playlist of your warm-ups from this year and share them with parents. These can be helpful transitional activities as kids adjust to being home every day, and they can offer a fun way to start the day as families try to establish new routines.
- Invite parents to sign up for Hooray for Monday. Though this resource is created primarily with teachers and school leaders in mind, sharing it with parents can be a way of inviting them into your world. Everything we write here is relevant to their work as the first teachers of their children.
- Share a list at the end of the year with parents of all the things you have had students be responsible for in school this year (i.e. sweeping the classroom, managing the noise level, collecting papers, grading their own papers, leading discussions, etc.). This list can be very helpful as parents struggle to figure out what level of responsibility they should expect from their children at home. Knowing that your child has been expected to, and has been able to, clean up the classroom play area after every play period will give parents more confidence in expecting that the same can be done at home. This is good for parents and for students because summer often exacerbates the home/school divide and creating consistent expectations can help to bridge that gap.