English Learner Family Engagement During Coronavirus
Updated: Feb 15, 2021
With so many schools closed across the country and students engaged in distance learning, let’s take a moment to think about the role of family engagement in our students' learning. In many households around the country, particularly those of higher socioeconomic status, parents are attempting to “do school” with their children. Many have the education, resources (wifi, multiple devices, books, etc.), and time to make this happen.
However, there are many other families throughout the U.S. where this will be very difficult for multiple reasons. In some cases, parents are still out of the home working, particularly in jobs like grocery stores, drug stores, and so on. In other cases, parents are at home, but may not be highly educated or have strong literacy skills. And they may not speak English. But let’s not fall into deficit thinking! The key “mantras” related to family engagement still apply:
Parents have the capacity to help their children regardless of their background.
Parents are their child’s first teacher and are experts on their children.
English Learner (EL) and immigrant parents may not know how to best support their children’s education during this time, and will be looking to you for advice. I have noticed many of lists circulating online that are full of free online educational tools, but in most cases, these are programs that English Learner students would utilize on their own.
So in addition, what resources can we offer EL/immigrant parents to support them in working with their children at home? The following resources (video clips, articles, etc.) are for non-English speaking parents to help them think through how they might support their child’s learning at home over the coming weeks. Think this isn't important? Think again. It's an equity issue!
Favorite video resources:
Great Schools is an organization that empowers parents to unlock educational opportunities for their children. They have many playlists on Youtube* that are organized by subject, grade level, and language (English or Spanish).
Ready Rosie – they have a number of tools, but their “Modeled Moments” videos may be particularly helpful at this time. If your district has a membership, you will have access to tons, but if not, there are some free samples on their site as well as their Youtube channel. (Update: they also just started a Healthy at Home Initiative in response to COVID-19 that's available in English and Spanish.)
Abriendo Puertas is now conducting Facebook Live sessions in Spanish for parents, with the idea that parents are their children's first teacher.
Khan Academy's free videos are nearly all in Spanish, French, and Brazilian Portuguese (in addition to English) and may be useful to parents who are trying to support their children.*
Videos (talking PowerPoints) created by Texas' Refugee School Impact Grantees on supporting learning at home and other related topics. Available in Arabic, Burmese, Dari, English, Kinyarwanda, Kishwahili, Nepali, Pashto, Rohingya, Somali, Spanish, Swahili, and Tigrinya.*
Favorite Radio Shows and/or Podcasts:
Favorite written resources:
Learning Heroes provides information and resources in English and Spanish to help parents support learning at home. Parents click on the grade level of their student and the subject they want help with and get a wide variety of resources.*
Colorín Colorado's entire website is bilingual (English/Spanish) and includes a huge section of resources for families. We particularly like Empowering ELL Parents & Families at Home. (Update: they recently came out with School Responses to COVID-19: ELL/Immigrant Considerations.)*
First Words Project is for parents of early childhood students. We particularly like their resource on “Everyday Activities” that’s available in English, Spanish, Creole, and Arabic.
National PTA’s Parents Guides to Student Success* has a guide for each grade (English/Spanish) and each includes a section on helping your child learn at home (click on the grade and then you will see the option to select Spanish). Note: National PTA has also set up this COVID-19 page with loads of resources.
The Importance of Home Language Series from Head Start in English, Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese, Chinese, Haitian Creole, and Russian.
Favorite websites for multilingual books online:
Unite for Literacy has books in over 45 languages, including many refugee languages and even some indigenous languages! Click “English” and you can change the written language and/or the audio language.
The Spanish Experiment has well-known children's stories translated into Spanish and spoken by a native Spanish speaker.
International Children’s Digital Library has books in dozens of languages.
Children’s Books Online: the Rosetta Project has a large section of books in multiple languages.
Global Storybooks has books in dozens of languages, including many from various countries in Africa.
Know of another resource we should add to these lists? Please let us know! Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
* Contains content for parents of secondary students.
Working from home and have a little extra time for PD? We're running a 3 week version of our online course Immigrant Family & Community Engagement in Schools from March 23 - April 10 in collaboration with English Learner Portal.
Get 20% off by using the code DISTANCING. Enroll today!