As educators, we speak of Personal Learning Networks (PLN) for ourselves, and sometimes our students. But what about parents?
Parents need resources to help them stay connected with school and their child's education. School memos and newsletters are not enough. One phone number at the school is not enough. Even having the email and/or phone number of teachers and counselors is not enough.
Here are some things that schools and districts should do to help parents have a PLN of their own:
1. School website - constantly updated, with links, resources, news, information, and contacts for teachers and staff. Information should be easy to find and read. Website should also have built-in translation abilities or instructions for using something like Google Translate. This is very important for limited or non-English speaking parents.
School blogs and Twitter accounts can also be used to share information with parents.
2. Email addresses - for child's teachers, administrator, and counselor. And, email list for other resources, like the school nurse, social worker, ELL coordinator, etc.
3. Phone list - for everyone listed in email address above.
4. Monthly parent workshops where parents can come to the school and meet the faculty and staff and make connections. They would also learn about the different resources at the school and district and how these resources can help them and their child. These workshops could also focus on tips and resources for creating a rich learning environment in the home for their child. There could also be seminars on computers, English language, parenting, and more.
5. Parent-Teacher Association contacts and meeting times need to be well published also.
6. Online Student information system - parents should be able to access real time grades and attendance information about their child. Most SIS offer this now.
7. Schoolwork and Homework help - help parents understand how to help their children with homework, even if they don't understand the subject matter. Give them ideas on providing time and space for the student to work. Helping students get good nutrition and enough sleep. Giving parents a list of resources to pass onto the student (like websites, tutoring, and the library).
These are great resources to help parents find information and help for them and/or their child. The personal connections are most important though. As parents meet staff in person they will feel more comfortable utilizing them and coming to them with issues and concerns.
Many parents feel disconnected from schools, especially in the higher grades when there are multiple teachers and administrators to deal with. Schools must work to give parents easy access to information and resources, and make parents feel comfortable in contacting the school for help.
What are your ideas for PLN's for Parents?
UPDATE: I forgot one great source for parents in a PLN - other parents. They can make connections, talk, help each other, share babysitting, carpools, etc.
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