Engaging families of English learners (EL) is essential for the success of our students and the overall school community. When families are involved in their children’s education, English learners often feel more connected to school, show stronger growth, and have better attendance. Connecting and working with families helps teachers and the school gain a better understanding of who their students are, their background, and their learning journey. Additionally, providing translation services and making important documents accessible in the families’ languages can build trust and facilitate communication between families and schools. It is important for schools to understand the rights that ELs and their families have regarding access to schooling and information in their home languages, and to communicate with parents in ways that are accessible and respectful.
It is important that school leaders ensure training for all staff on engaging and supporting families of English learners. This includes understanding the importance of maintaining (1) the student’s ability to communicate with their parents in the language the parents know best and (2) the native language, including how parents can support their child’s bilingual development at home. It is crucial to respect parents’ intentions and encourage native language use at home, as strong native language skills can help ELs learn English. Schools should also explore various communication options and ensure that EL parents have access to the same information as non-EL parents. Additionally, using platforms that can break the language barrier, such as TalkingPoints, can help educators communicate with EL families and make them feel included.
In conclusion, building and strengthening partnerships with families of EL students is essential for creating a welcoming and supportive environment. By involving families in their children’s education, schools can improve student outcomes and foster a sense of belonging for ELs within the school community. Please see the resources below for information and further ideas.
*Do you have an idea for a Family Engagement activity with multilingual families in your building or district? If so, reach out to Annalisa Miner or Lisa Wymore, Consultants for English Learners, to see if you could qualify for a Title III Family Engagement mini-grant (up to $1000.00)!
Resources for Engagement and Connection:
- Six Tips for Engaging Families of English Learners
- Connecting with ELL Families: Strategies for Success
- Encouraging and Sustaining ELL Family Engagement
- Why We Need to Make Family Engagement a Top Priority in Social-Emotional Learning for Diverse Language Learners
- Four Ways to Strengthen Partnerships with Families of EL Students
- Connecting with EL Families
Guidance and Resources for Communication: