The Importance of Parent EngagementParents are often over-looked but vitally important stakeholders in schools, particularly in low income neighborhoods and rural areas. Keying in on their importance in helping students and schools succeed, the SLI Parent Engagement Component focuses on teaching parents how to better support and be involved in their children's learning. The SLI model encourages parents to understand that home is a place of Learning and that parents have a vital role in helping their children be better prepared for school and become better learners.
SLI offers a series of workshops to parents in each school in our networks of neighborhood schools, helping them to learn strategies and methods to employ at home with their children. Parents are encouraged to model learning as a continuous process, which is crucial in fostering a life-long love of learning in their children. Ranging from reading and math games to nurturing positive self-esteem and helping with science projects and analytical thinking, the SLI workshops give parents useful and effective tools, strategies and activities which strengthen learning for the whole family.
In keeping with the SLI model for building long-term school capacity, SLI recruits and trains parents to lead the workshops and coordinate ongoing parent involvement after the four-year SLI network partnership ends. These trained parents carry on the lessons learned from SLI and enable the schools to continue engaging new families in supporting their children's learning.
Going beyond the workshops, SLI also engages parents in helping shape the learning environment of their children's schools. A parent coordinator ─ trained by SLI ─ joins the principal and teacher coordinator as the Leadership Team at each school. Together the Team works with SLI staff to build a shared vision of how to develop a culture of continuous improvement that includes all three stakeholder groups, parents, teachers and administrators.
The Parent Engagement Program focuses on building school, family and community partnerships by conducting educational, interactive workshops and supporting the idea that parents are their child’s first teacher. Parent engagement is one of the most statistically significant drivers of Chicago’s school improvement (Bryk & Schneider, 2002). It reflects one of the most powerful elements of the Five Essential Supports for Student Achievement developed by the Chicago Public Schools and school partners in 1994 and is consistent with the comprehensive school improvement research. (Simmons, 2001; Consortium, 2006)
ResultsSLI’s work with parents has both immediate and longer-term benefits for their children, their families, and their schools. Parents, teachers, and principals point to SLI’s role in helping their children to learn better and enabling their schools to improve.
Evidence of SLI’s success in engaging parents:
- Parent feedback measured through the evaluations gathered from every workshop indicate that they value the program highly and are better understanding the important role they play in their children's learning.
- Parent enthusiasm as measured through attendance remains very high.
- Parents are reporting that they are becoming more effective teachers of their children & helping more with schoolwork.
- Teachers report that the children of parents who have attended the workshops are better prepared for learning in the classroom.
The SLI Parent Engagement Team has earned the National Network of Partnership Schools NNPS) Partnership Organization Award from John Hopkins University for three years in a row, from 2005 to 2007.
“SLI is showing that research-based approaches can be used to help families become involved in children’s education in ways that increasestudent success at schools.” - Dr. Joyce L. Epstein, Director of NNPS
Homework WorkshopsProvides ways to support, encourage and praise children while doing their homework.
Math WorkshopsBuilds math skills such as addition, multiplication, place value, fractions, problem solving and more.
Science WorkshopsDemonstrates scientific method, creation of science fair experiments, and interactive science activities using items from around the house.
Self-Esteem WorkshopsStresses the importance of positive self esteem and ways to strengthen it.
Workshops on Making BooksIntroduces different types of books to create while learning subject matter.
Writing WorkshopsIntroduces different strategies and activities to enhance writing skills.
Workshops Connected to the Illinois Reading StandardsConnects the participants to activities and tools that students need to know according to the Illinois Reading Standards.
Comprehension WorkshopsFocuses on what comprehension is, the important role it plays and different strategies to use.
Word Knowledge WorkshopsIntroduces games and activities to build vocabulary.
History WorkshopsFocuses on important information related to history.
Workshops That Focus on Grades 6-8Helps parents support their adolescents.
*Adult Life Skills
*These workshop series are designed to strengthen the skills of the parents themselves while the other workshops are designed to help the parents support their children’s learning.
Workshop Series Options
U PICK 3 Choose three 2-hour workshops provided by two facilitators in English and/or Spanish language.
U PICK 5 Choose five 2-hour workshops provided by two facilitators in English and/or Spanish language.
U PICK 6 Choose six 2-hour workshops provided by two facilitators in English and/or Spanish language.
U PICK 10 Choose ten 2-hour workshops provided by two facilitators in English and/or Spanish language.
U PICK 9 Choose nine 2-hour workshops provided by two facilitators in English and/or Spanish language.
U PICK 12 Choose twelve 2-hour workshops provided by two facilitators in English and/or Spanish language.
U PICK 20 Choose twenty 2-hour workshops provided by two facilitators in English and/or Spanish language.
Parent Participant Comments:
“Instead of watching television at home, now we play the educational games that I learned at the workshop or we read. I have more of an understanding of the work the teachers are giving my son.”
“I’ve used what I’ve learned to help my grandson understand what he reads in newspapers and magazines and how to write in the proper order.”
“The graphic organizer is used by all the students in our household including our college students. I created a graphic organizer based on the information in the story elements book to be used in creating simple book reports.”
“I learned that listening plays an important part in learning.”
"Parents have been helping their children more at home - there's a noticeable difference…This is contributing a lot to our students' increasing achievement." ─ Dr. Victoria Cadavid, Former Principal of Josiah L. Pickard Elementary