Working with Hispanic Families Developed by Dr. Judith A. Márquez Dr. Laurie R. Weaver University of Houston-Clear Lake
Objectives • At the end of this module, the participant will be able to: • Identify ways to address possible barriers to family involvement for Hispanics. • Identify essential elements of literacy projects involving Hispanic families.
Parent Involvement • What does parent involvement mean to you? • Discuss your definition with a partner. • Compare your definition with the one that appears in the next slide.
Parent Involvement • The participation of parents in regular, two-way, meaningful communication involving students’ academic learning and other school activities (NCLB, 2002).
Parent Involvement • Includes ensuring that: • parents play an integral role in assisting their child’s learning; • parents are encouraged to be actively involved in their child’s education at school; • parents are full partners in their child’s education and are included, as appropriate, in decision making and on advisory committees to assist in the education of their child (NCLB, 2002).
Parent Involvement • “Family” has replaced “parent” • Options for involvement have expanded beyond “big three” • volunteer • homework helper • fund-raiser
Why is family involvement important? Evidence that family involvement leads to: improved student achievement, better school attendance, and reduced dropout rates. Improvements occur regardless of the economic, racial, or cultural background of the family (Flaxman & Inger, 1991).
Importance of Family Involvement • When families, communities and schools form partnerships to enable children’s learning, everyone benefits • schools work better, • families become closer, • community resources thrive, and • students improve academically.
Family Involvement • Helps bridge the gap between home and school for the child • Helps children function in a school setting where shared goals and values develop
Research in Family Involvement • 1. Partnerships tend to decline across the grades unless schools work to develop and implement appropriate partnerships at each grade level;
Research in Family Involvement • 2. Affluent communities have more positive family involvement unless schools in economically distressed communities work to build positive partnerships with students’ families;
Research in Family Involvement • 3. Schools in more economically depressed communities make more contacts with families about problems unless they work at developing balanced programs that include contacts about positive accomplishments;
Research in Family Involvement • 4. Unless the school organizes opportunities for families to volunteer, single parents, parents who are employed outside the home, parents who live far from the school, and fathers are less involved;
Research in Family Involvement • 5. Just about all families care about their children, want them to succeed, and are eager to obtain better information from schools and communities;
Research in Family Involvement • 6. Just about all teachers and administrators would like to involve families, but many do not know how to build positive and productive programs and are fearful about trying.
Research in Family Involvement • 7. Just about all students at all levels want their families to be more knowledgeable partners about schooling and are willing to take active roles in assisting communications between home and school.
Need to Increase Hispanic Family Involvement in Schools • 40% of Hispanic children live in poverty. • Hispanics are most under-educated major segment of the U.S. population. • Many Hispanic children enter kindergarten lacking in language development and facility, regardless of L1. http://www.ericfacility.net/ericdigests/ed350380.html
Barriers to Family Involvement • What are some of the barriers to family involvement for Hispanic families? • Discuss your ideas with a partner. • Compare your ideas with the ones that appears in the next slide.
Barriers to Family Involvement • Language differences • Beliefs that the roles of home and school are sharply delineated • Past negative experiences with education • A negative view of the school system
Understanding the Barriers • Family members may not speak the language of the school. • Boundary between school and home is due to respect for teachers’ authority • Trusting the teacher can interfere with families becoming advocates for their children.
Overcoming the Barriers • How can the barriers to family involvement be overcome? • Discuss your ideas with a partner. • Compare your ideas with the ones that appears in the next slide.
Overcoming the Barriers • Communication • Bilingual staff, telephone calls and written communication available in Spanish. • Home visits or visits at a neutral site offer less threatening environment. • Written correspondence not as effective as personal conference (Dauber & Epstein, 1993).
Overcoming the Barriers • Meetings should be informal and based on the interests of the families, with transportation and child care provided. • Reduce the disparity between home and school.
Involving Families in Hispanic Communities • Connecting • Sharing information • Staying involved (Delgado-Gaitán, 2004)
Connecting with Hispanic Families • Educators initiate contact to enlist family participation in school programs. • Reach out to families in a language they understand.
Sharing Information • A two-way process • Need to share with families what is happening in the school • Need to learn about the child’s experience in the family
Staying Involved • An ongoing process • Staying involved = long-term goal • More than one event or one day
Sustaining Family InvolvementRequires • A commitment to open, continuous, two-way communication with families • Receptive attitudes and practices of teachers and principals (Dauber & Epstein, 1993).
Hispanic Policy Development Project (HPDP) • Conducted a nationwide grant program to promote and test strategies to increase Hispanic parental involvement in the schooling of their children
HPDP Findings • "All the schools that felt that poor Hispanic parents should begin their involvement by joining the existing parents' organizations failed" (Nicolau & Ramos, 1990, p. 18). • Before joining existing parent organizations, Hispanic parents want to acquire skills and confidence to contribute as equals.
HPDP Conclusions – Based on 42 Projects • Overcoming the barriers between schools and Hispanic parents does not require large amounts of money; • Requires personal outreach, non-judgmental communication, and respect for parents' feelings. • Hispanic school personnel can facilitate the process, but non-Hispanics can also be effective.
Making it easier for Families to Participate • Examine the next slide. Think about your school and the recommendations made by the HPDP. • Which of the recommendations could be easily implemented at your school? • Which ones would be more challenging to implement? Why?
Recommendations from HPDP • Make it easy for families to participate. • Bilingual programs and materials • Child care • No fees • Times and locations of meetings convenient for parents • Interpreters and transportation • Face-to-face conversations with parents in their primary language
Partnerships with Families • Represent a major shift for schools from merely delivering services to students to taking active, integrated roles that validate the cultural and social experiences of families.
Establishing Partnerships • Hold the first meetings outside of school, preferably at sites that are familiar to the families. • Make first meetings social events; unsuccessful ones are formal events at school, with information aimed "at" the families
Establishing Partnerships • To retain the involvement of low-income Hispanic families, every meeting has to respond to some needs or concerns of the families. • Programs that consult with families regarding agendas and meeting formats and begin with the families' agenda eventually cover issues that the school considers vital. • Programs that stick exclusively to the school's agenda lose the families.
Establishing Partnerships • Ongoing partnerships need evaluation and checkpoints to see if goals and objectives are being met and if goals and objectives are still appropriate. • Keeping programs flexible helps everyone adjust to changes within the student body, families, the school staff, and the community.
Partnerships with Families • Require all participants to share responsibility for educational outcomes. • Need to ask families for their ideas. • Meet with family and community representatives to define goals. • Develop a plan for family and community involvement.
Family Involvement Projects • Training programs - help family members build self-esteem, improve communication skills, & conduct activities that improve children's study habits.
Family Literacy Programs • Training to enable families to support the educational growth of their children (e.g., Project Even Start).
Family Literacy Programs • Provide literacy classes for both children and their family members. • Are based on notion that literacy, due to social and cultural nature, is best developed within context of the family.
Family Literacy Programs should include: • Interactive literacy activities between family members and children • Training for family members on how to be the children’s primary teacher and full partners in their education • Family literacy training that leads to economic self-sufficiency • Age appropriate education to prepare children for success in school and life experiences.
Characteristics of Successful Programs • Address families' personal goals • Value families' home languages • View families from a resource model rather than a deficit model
Characteristics of Successful Programs • Provide families access to information and resources that will encourage success for children • Encourage shared literacy experiences in homes rather than imposing a school-like transfer of skills from parent to child
Neglected Aspects of Family Literacy Programs • Working independently on reading & writing • Addressing family & community problems • Addressing child-rearing concerns • Supporting development of home language & culture • Interacting with school system (Auerbach, 1989).
Establishing a Family Literacy Program • First steps • Determine the needs of the participants and available resources • Establish collaborative relationships with other institutions and individuals
Establishing a Family Literacy Program • Class sites • Schools • Community centers • Churches • Adult education sites • Class times • Should be negotiated with the participants and program providers. • Transportation • Provide transportation, if necessary
Curriculum Design • Should reflect needs of both adult and child participants. • Should be flexible • May offer instruction to • Adults only, • Adults and children together, or • Adults and children separately.
Language of Instruction • Home language(s) • Reassure families that their linguistic abilities are strengths • Encourage family members to model literacy in their strongest language
Language of Instruction • Native language instruction ensures adequate learning opportunities. • Evidence that use of first language is pedagogically appropriate (Moll and Diaz 1987), especially for learners with limited literacy (Auerbach, 1993).