Collaborating for Kids

May 21, 2012
Chelsea Budde

As the school year draws to a close, some of us are feeling the exhilaration of not having to prepare lessons for the summer.  Or grade tests.  Or get up early.  Others are feeling the dread of the lack of structure school provides for their children, and may be scrambling to put together a reasonable itinerary for the 10 or so weeks off.  And many of us are somewhere in-between: ready for a break, but recognizing the need for summer goals.

It's easy to lose sight of the big picture in this mad dash to the school year finish line.  We have a hyper focus on our roles as parents and educators in the home stretch.  Yet when we widen the lens, we see that the summer is the best time to collaborate for the sake of students.  Teachers are in a unique position to know what extra practice will be beneficial for the upcoming school year, and parents can reach out to gather resources and suggestions for summertime follow-through.

We know the 4th grade teacher spends some six hours a day with 4th grade students; but we also know that these 4th graders are being molded by their educators and families into adults, equipped with the skills, knowledge, and character they'll need to become the kind of citizens of whom we as a community can be proud.

The state of Wisconsin, along with 45 others, have adopted the Common Core State Standards, which are accessible for viewing by both families and schools.  Viewing these standards for mathematics and language arts might be one way to initiate this conversation between home and school about what academic concepts could use a little extra attention.

The National Association of School Psychologists published a paper in 1999 and revised in 2005 about the importance of the home-school collaboration.  All students will achieve more if we as families and schools work in partnership with one another.

During last week's World Café™-style Community Conversation on Meaningful Inclusion in Elementary School, Good Friend hosted an inspiring mix of 30 parents, therapists, educators, and administrators.  One parent commented afterward how moved she was by the commitment of the educators who were present.  The limited number of minutes in the day is sometimes a barrier to effective communication between home and school, but we must not lose sight of the fact that we are all on the same team.

Work hard to collaborate for the benefit of your students this summer.  And then tell us what steps you've taken together to help them run the race!  Your comment could earn you a Good Friend prize!

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