Create effective LINKS with the parents of new arrivals

Learn about your parent groups

Developing an information base about your parent groups is a good idea as there may be common questions or concerns that different groups have. Whilst you dont want to stereotype groups, a sensitive approach to learning about the needs of different groups can be useful.

You may find that some parents prefer information presented in video form, others in written form and translated information for one parent may also be useful for another. Being able to present parents with comprehensive information about the area including supplementary schools, community support groups and English language classes can also prove valuable

Interpreters and translators

Having a databse of people within the school who speak different languages can be very useful for interpreting basic conversations. For more formal or confidential issues having a list of interpreters or translators can mean that information is clear on both sides and time is saved by accurate and precise conversations and written communication.

New arrivals link person

Developing a system where there is a link person (key contact person) for each major language group can be an exxtremely valuable resource for both parents and staff. A link person can signpost parents to community groups and supplementary groups in the commuity and can help new families access the information they need and answer or refer any questions.

A link person could have a formal role such as a Family Liaison Officers, or could be a volunteer, PTA member, parent representative, or member of staff who speaks a specific language. A link person can also support parents in finding English langauge courses in the area if they would like to develop their English language skills.

Knowledge exchange

Communicating with parents effectively is vital in order to support parents to support their children. Communication barriers may include limited English, cultural misunderstandings or differences in educational systems or expectations of parental involvement.

Key strategies to overcome these barriers inlcude: making school information clear and accessible through the use of visuals, clear language and use of translations where necessary and possible; having a system whereby interpreters are available for parent-teacher meetings; running curriculum workshops to explain key areas of the curriculum; and having an effective system for involving parents in school life.

Helping parents to understand the curriculum can be achieved through running effective parent workshops of different aspects of the curriculum and providing accessible information that explains curriculum levels, assessment processes and curriculum content clearly.

Supporting children at home

There are many ways parents can support their children at home many more than they probably realise. Daily life provides ample opportunities to teach, learn and reinforce concepts and skills for young and older children. Opportunities to develop mathematical skills, scientific concepts and reading and writing skills all can be found within the home. Making it fun is essential.

Parents can also help with structured homework and need to be encouraged to use the language they are comfortable with to discuss concepts with their children. Rich deep communication is the desired outcome and this can be achieved in any language.