Family educators work to help parents support their child's school success.
The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically changed school and family routines. A change in routines, combined with distance learning and perhaps increased family time may have brought on new stressors for both parents and children. Being intentional and positive has never been more important for families in this new flow of life. Extension Family Development educators, led by Silvia Alvarez de Davila, developed a partnership with the Office of Higher Education, Get Ready program to co-create a workshop series in both English and Spanish for parents from over 20 middle and high schools across the state. The workshops:
- Provide tools and resources to support parents in helping their children navigate their learning and success in school.
- Recognize that this is a time of learning and growth for everyone.
- Help parents connect with other parents from their school and allow parents to take the time to reflect and learn together to navigate the changes brought on by the pandemic.
Get Ready staff (English) and Extension educators (Spanish) lead small group discussions to help build stronger relationships between parents and school.
For each of the virtual workshops, parents are sent a family engagement kit ahead of time that includes:
- Worksheets related to each workshop topic
- An Extension family calendar with resources and tips
- Family conversation starters
- Motivational messages for youth (Post-it notes)
- U of M drawstring bag to promote post-secondary education
Foundations for school success
The first workshop focuses on the foundations for school success addressing building families’ trust in their capacity to help their children to be successful in school. It provides the opportunity to learn and discuss parenting styles practices that help to provide a supportive environment. In small groups, parents discuss factors that help their children succeed in school as well as the hopes and dreams they have for their children.
Connecting home and learning
Participants spend time with facilitators helping to connect home and learning by talking about the importance of setting expectations and structure as a tool for a positive learning environment and school success.
Healthy relationships and mental well-being
The last in the series discusses the importance of parents having positive relationships with their children to help children feel safe and accepted at home during these challenging times. In these workshops parents have the opportunity to practice communication skills they can use with each other and their children and discuss specific steps to take to improve and maintain these relationships for school success for their children.
Participants have been very active in the workshops. As one parent said “I'm thankful for this group tonight. This is helpful and to know that we are all in this together. This is a safe space to connect, reflect and get ideas.”