I love the diverse people, food, and languages across the Lone Star State, especially our “south of the border” sounds and flavors. Latino culture is part of my heritage, and I am proud to serve the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference as Executive Director of the Faith & Education Coalition. I love working with parents, pastors and leaders across the nation who care deeply about students and high quality education.
In many Hispanic communities across Texas, pastors and church members provide vital education connections for families. From immigrants and Spanish-speaking parents to first-generation college students, these “learning heroes” help local families bridge the language and cultural divides related to education. They invest in students because they believe every child is created in God’s image and deserves the chance to meet his or her potential.
One way these church leaders help families chart a course for school success is by encouraging them to build a strong parent-teacher partnership. This can be intimidating for adults who never completed their own education, those who were educated in other countries, or those who are not fluent in English. But we can encourage all parents to make the most of this "back to school" season with a few simple tips.
Parents can be “learning heroes” for their children by starting the school year with these five tips:
1. Start Strong.
Find out how prepared your child is for his or her new grade. Be sure to review the annual state test results from last year. Consider using the TAG approach (Teacher feedback + Assessments + Grades) to determine how your student is progressing and what areas may need additional support. If you haven’t received your child’s STAAR test results yet, visit www.TexasAssessment.com to view your child’s assessment results from last school year – as well as many other parent resources. Much of this information is also available in Spanish.
2. Partner Up.
At your first teacher meeting, bring your child’s state test results and ask what they mean for this year. Find out what’s expected of your childand what you can do at home to help. You can prepare for the first teacher meeting with tips at BeALearningHero.org
3. Make It Fun!
You are the expert on your child and can help make learning cool! Read together on topics that interest your child. Find math in everyday life -turn it into a game. Small learning moments add up!
4. Celebrate Hard Work.
Focus on the effort and what your child is learning. Celebrating hard work and progress, rather than perfection, will help your child feel less nervous about new tasks or subjects.
5. Encourage Life Skills Along the Way.
Strengths such as being able to communicate, problem-solve, and demonstrate patience will help your child in school and life. Talk openly withyour child about how he or she is feeling and reacting to situations at school, on the playground, and at home.
Parents and teachers and church leaders can partner to help students reach high standards, expecting and bringing out the best in each child. Good tests help us gauge if students are on track for the next grade level and, eventually, for the rigor of college or career. And accessing test results and other progress data, in both English and Spanish, empowers parents to become full partners in their child’s education. We can honor our cultural diversity as we unite parents behind a common goal – excellent education opportunities for all our Texas students.