Is it possible to get parents involved in Spanish class???? Even when they took French in high school???
“I don’t speak Spanish, so I can’t help with Spanish class.”
Ever hear this statement from a parent or guardian? If you have been teaching at least a year or 2, for sure you’ve heard it! And if you’re just starting out, trust me…. it will come.
So why is it important to get parents involved in their child’s Spanish learning?
Oh so many reasons!!
First, one of my goals with this blog is to reduce teacher stress. I am a recovering Type A, and after this pandemic year, I have been forced to let go of the idea that I CAN DO IT ALL, AND DO IT ALL REALLY WELL! It was a difficult realization to come to. But sometimes the truth hurts! : )
When teachers can connect with parents from the beginning, you have an ally on your side for the rest of the year. Whatever worries or problems may arise with the student, you know that you can contact the parent or guardian, and he/she will work with you instead of against you.
But it’s our job to “sell” who we are as caring professionals. It’s not hard to do, but it must be purposeful. Here are 4 ideas to get parents involved in Spanish class!
1. Determine how you will inform parents of the general things they need to know.
Will you create a monthly newsletter? Do you plan to send out a quarterly email? Can you share the study guide for important assessments? What things could all parents and guardians benefit from knowing? Allowing parents to have a glimpse into what’s going on in Spanish class will make them feel like part of the team. It can foster conversation with their children. Having some knowledge about what’s coming up can take away some of the mystery of “a foreign language“!
Any of these ideas will allow you to reach all parents/guardians with the same message, which saves you time. But it also allows the parents who need or want to follow up with you to do so on a one-one-one basis. Get parents involved by encouraging them to email you with any questions or concerns.
2. Ask Parents/Guardians about their children!
As the mother of younger children, I always loved getting that cute paper from the new elementary teacher asking me about my child. There is so much to know about their interests, how they learn and what motivates them! But I noticed that once middle school hit, I was no longer asked.
I make a point to ask every parent/guardian about their child. (I also ask my students to describe themselves… see that blog here). It’s sometimes funny to see how differently a student describes him/herself as compared to their adult!
We all have challenging students. Having that voice in my head reminds me when I feel frustrated that this challenging student is someone’s precious child, and I ask myself how I would want my own child’s teacher to respond to him. It can help me to understand all kinds of behaviors that I see when without the background knowledge, could have been interpreted in a very different way.
Asking parents about their children shows that you care about your students as individuals and builds trust from the beginning. Get parents involved in Spanish class right away by asking them about their kids!
3. Communicate Actionable Steps Parents/Guardians Can Take to Help Their Children
Debunk the myth that parents who don’t speak Spanish can’t help with Spanish homework! It’s just not true! There are so many ways parents can help their children do well in Spanish! For example, adults can
-quiz them on vocab words by using a vocab list
-check the grading platform regularly to be sure that assignments are being turned in
-review the study guide with their child
-time students while they use quizlet
-coach their children on how to write an email requesting help
-help their child set up a study place and a study time
-create a list with their child about which study methods work well for that individual
Parents involved in their child’s education have students who are more successful. Teachers who have parents involved have a better team and less stress!
4. Ask Parents/Relatives to be Guest Speakers!
Some of us are lucky to live in areas of the country where there is a high population of Spanish-speakers. But even for those who live in communities without a large Hispanic population, you just never know who might use Spanish in their life!
Ask parents if they or someone they know might be willing to be a guest speaker! I use this particularly with my AP students to encourage them to keep learning Spanish. We have had guests who work for social services, people who work in major companies as cybersecurity technicians, grandparents from Spanish-speaking countries, professors, and more! Each person has a unique way in which Spanish has played a role in their life, and student love hearing their stories! Asking parents to share their knowledge and life experiences is another great way to let them know that they are valued.
Buena suerte to everyone starting a new year, and making a strategic plan to partner with parents/guardians. Taking the time to build relationships with the adults in your students’ lives will pay great dividends!
If you like these ideas, feel free to create your own handouts. They work magic!
Here are the one I use if you are looking to save some time!
5 Parent Engagement Templates for Spanish Class
Be sure to check out my other posts about Back To School!
How To Make Connections with Your New Spanish Students at the Beginning of the Year