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Volume 28, Number 5
September/October 2012

Six Ways Schools Can Build Relationships with Families


As educators gear up for the beginning of another school year, the time is ripe to develop new relationships. Teachers, of course, understand the importance of building relationships with their students in the classroom to enhance learning, but it is also important to build relationships with parents and families. Often parents are disconnected from schools for a variety of reasons, so administrators and teachers can and should make efforts to create a welcoming community. Here are a few practices and programs to consider as the school year begins.

1. Language Learning Resource Programs for all Parents and Families
For many reasons, it can be helpful for families to acquire another language that can assist them in supporting their children with their schoolwork. Parents and families whose first language is not English should be encouraged to maintain their first language and to acquire—that is, add—a second language (English) if this is the prevailing language of instruction in a school. But why not also offer ways for English-speaking parents to learn another language as well? Providing opportunities for parents and families to learn English, Spanish, Arabic, French, Chinese, and other languages, particularly those represented in a school community, can help those in the community build relationships and engage in language acquisition at the same time.

This is an excerpt from the Harvard Education Letter. Subscribers can click here to continue reading this article.