As this quarter and semester come to an end, it's time to start thinking about those end-of-calendar-year celebrations your school puts on for students and their families. Whether these celebrations include classroom parties or outdoor game days, having parents around as volunteers can be helpful (and necessary!) to make sure everything runs smoothly. As you start to prepare these fun and interactive events on your school's campus, consider making some simple, but special, efforts to include those parents who may not speak English and may or may not have the same cultural customs as we do here in the United States.
So, how do you inform these parents of what's going on and how do you get them involved? We have some simple tips that you can put in place in the next month or so that we know will make a difference in their involvement!
1. Start thinking now about the notes you will send home with your students and any social media messages you will post to school-specific groups and channels.
Do you have a series of notifications you send out to let parents know about the special activities and events coming up to celebrate specific holidays or end-of-year events? Consider having these announcements professionally translated so that these parents know you're making efforts to include them and inform them about what's going on in their children's classrooms. Be careful not to use any automated tools for this, as your translation will likely come back riddled with mistakes. If children need to bring something specific to class or to an activity or meal, these are important details to relay in the parents' primary language. After all, no child likes to show up to school empty-handed when his/her peers are prepared.
2. Ask for volunteers in order to get parents interested and involved.
Many parents whose primary language is not English may seem uninterested in what's going on at their children's schools, when in reality, they just don't have the information they need in their language. Most parents are happy to be involved and asked to take part in their children's activities. So, while you're at it, ask them if they'd like volunteer to hand out art supplies for a special holiday project, bring a favorite dish, or prepare an activity. You may even have the opportunity to learn more about this family's culture just by having them share something special to them that pertains to a certain holiday or season.
3. Say "thanks".
A gesture that is absolutely universal across all languages and cultures is saying "thanks". Take a moment to recognize these parents and family members at the event/celebration so that they know you appreciate their time and work. You might even prepare a small token of your appreciation with a thank-you note in their language. It may seem like a small gesture, but these are the types of details that will keep these parents coming back and getting more involved in their children's school activities.
Finally, think outside the box. If you know that the end of the year also lines up with a holiday that several families in your student population celebrate, ask them to come to their children's classrooms and share their traditions and a special activity or dish with the class. Not only will they be touched that you asked, but the other students in the classroom will be intrigued by this extra opportunity to learn something new.
If you have any special announcements, social media posts or informational materials you'd like to send out to students' parents who speak other languages, feel free to request a free consultation. We'd be happy to help with your end-of-year fun!