Parents Pulling Students from School Early? Share These 3 Tips with Them.

Parents Pulling Students from School Early? Share These 3 Tips with Them. | A mother puts a seatbelt on her son before they leave for the holidays.

By Ana Vela

When we think of the holidays, we think about being with family. Well, what if your family is in a different country? You then travel hundreds, even thousands of miles to be with your loved ones. That’s what paisanos, about 2 million people, do every year. Paisanos (countrymen) are Mexican citizens who live and work in the United States and travel to Mexico to visit family. For paisanos, this migration can start as early as one week prior to Thanksgiving, returning to the U.S. after New Year’s.

When I was growing up, we were considered paisanos, as my father would drive us from our home in Virginia to spend the holidays in Mexico. I recall other paisano families leaving before the school holiday break to get a head start on the long drive to Mexico and to spend as much time with family as possible. While it’s wonderful to spend an extended amount of time with their families, taking children out of school before the designated break can have a serious impact on them as students.

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Why Parent Engagement Month Matters

Why Parent Engagement Month Matters

By Sunny P. Chico

I love that the entire month of November is dedicated to parent engagement. It brings awareness to the critical role of parents in our homes. Every day should be Parent Engagement Day, because each day a child is learning and growing. Parents need to be present and aware of what’s happening and nurture positive development.

But what does this engagement look like? Many times parents focus on what’s happening in the classroom and rely on the school to take care of the child’s needs. Parent Engagement Month reminds us that it’s not just about academic needs.

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The Security of Routines in the Classroom

The Security of Classroom Routines | A row of children sitting in desks raise their hands.

By Sandra Braceful-Quarles

Your alarm clock goes off and you hit the snooze button. At least that’s what you meant to do. 30 minutes later, you’re off to a late start. There’s no time to pick up coffee or eat breakfast. You at least want to make it to work on time. There you can attempt to readjust and resume the remaining part of your schedule.

At the end of the day, you can reboot and get back to your regular routine, which you welcome because it helps you navigate and creates a sense of security that you need to survive the day.

Now imagine students in your class who may or may not have a regular routine to follow outside of school. The importance and impact of a regular routine in the classroom are now magnified exponentially since your students are likely too young to have the skills to make the adjustments that you did on their own.

The National Education Association (NEA) knows that well-taught routines provide smooth, uninterrupted class operation, which saves large amounts of time and puts the focus back on learning. If you think about it, you’re bestowing much more than a procedure for your students to follow. You’re teaching them navigation skills, developing a sense of security and trust, and extending the routines they have at home.

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8 Approaches to Planning a Strong Parent-Teacher Conference

How to prepare for a strong parent-teacher conference. Parents sit in the classroom at desks.
By Maureen Powers

The first parent-teacher conference of the year is a critical time for engaging your students’ parents. Not only do you set the tone for educational expectations and progress, you can ask the parents for their help at home and encourage parent engagement.

When planning the parent-teacher conference, first address the attendance and preparation needs. Then think of creative approaches to the meeting to make it more effective and memorable.

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Reverse the Summer Slide: Validate. Inform. Empower.

Reverse the Summer Slide: Validate. Inform. Empower. Three students line up at the teacher's desk, as one looks frustrated at a test score.
By Sandra Braceful-Quarles

Summer break is winding down and the chatter of final vacations, backpacks filled with school supplies, and the start of a new school year are almost upon us. Teachers are organizing their classrooms and preparing for another successful year. But while we encouraged our students to read, practice, and discover during this time to avoid the dreaded summer slide, there’s no guarantee that any learning took place during this time. It’s even more likely that the students who really struggle didn’t read at all.

In education, we’re in a new era where teacher evaluations are tied to student growth. How can you get the most out of your struggling students as you continue to challenge the others? While focusing on best practices, remember that you have the YOU Program in your toolbox. It has many components that work in conjunction with best teaching practices.

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Now Talk To Them: Foreign Education Differences

Imagine being raised in a country where the school system discourages parents from talking to teachers. What if that was your student's parent? Now talk to them. YOU: Your Child's First Teacher parent engagement program.

As you prepare for the 2015-2016 school year, think about your students’ parents. If any of them immigrated to the U.S., they might have a different idea than you do about how involved they should be in their children’s education.

According to a 2014 article published in The Hechinger Report:

Latino immigrants particularly tend to trust the public school system to provide their children with the education they need, beginning in kindergarten, according to advocates and studies. Their role is to keep their babies safe, clean, well-fed and loved –– an attitude that can lead to children being nurtured but starting school irreparably behind.

Use the beginning of the school year as an opportunity to talk with your students’ parents and align your goals, regardless of their cultural background.

Speak with school administrators about hosting a parent workshop before school starts or at the beginning of the year. The YOU Program offers parent workshops in Spanish and English and will teach parents the importance of parent engagement so that you start the school year on the same page.

Your students’ parents will know what is expected of them and learn how to take a more active role in their children’s education, which will help the students come to school prepared to learn and boost their chances of success.

Join the conversation about what we should be communicating to our students’ parents by using the #NowTalkToThem hashtag on Twitter.

Motivate Students with a Team Approach

Motivate Students with a Team Approach to Learning. Enlist their peers, parents, and former teachers to find out what best motivates your students. | The image shows four high school students discussing a paper.
By Lynn Samartino

As a middle school teacher, I’ve encountered many types of students. Some start the school year eager to learn, while others would rather be outside the classroom hanging with their friends. Some are distracted by added responsibilities, like taking care of siblings, chores, or working to bring income to the family. It’s difficult to reach those students who aren’t very motivated to learn and need direction, but I’ve developed some strategies to help them learn the value of their education.

During the first month of school (and even before then), I review data to drive my instruction and observe my new students to understand their work habits, individual needs, and learning styles. Usually, students do well with the initial activities and events until the curriculum is implemented: participating in class, completing lesson activities or projects, and homework assignments.

The rigorous work is difficult for them, which is a positive thing. I want to challenge my students to increase their cognitive abilities. Through these challenges, I can identify students who don’t want to work because the work is “too hard,” are just doing the minimum or sometimes no work at all, by the lack of work turned in, lack of participation, excuses given for not completing work, or playing around in class. Once I identify those students, I try to awaken their desire to learn with a combination of these strategies.

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Now Talk to Them: Low-Income Parents

Imagine being raised in a country where the school system discourages parents from talking to teachers. What if that was your student's parent? Now talk to them. You: Your Child's First Teacher Parent Engagement Program.

In a perfect world, students would arrive at school well rested with bellies full of nutritious food and ready to learn. But in many Title I schools, parents don’t earn enough money to put a nutritious breakfast on the table.

If a student is lucky enough to have breakfast, it might be an inexpensive, sugary cereal. Once he or she arrives in your classroom, the student is bouncing off the walls from a sugar high. If the student doesn’t have breakfast, he or she will arrive tired, hungry, and distracted. In either case, these students aren’t prepared to learn.

If these scenarios happen in your classroom, think about how to proactively speak to your students’ parents before the school year begins about ensuring each student has a nutritious breakfast before class.

  • Research local grocery stores that accept SNAP payments.
  • Provide a list of inexpensive, healthy breakfast foods.
  • Show the parents how a healthy breakfast helps their child learn more. The parents will prioritize breakfast more if they understand how important it is for their children’s learning.

Starting the conversation can make a difference. Educate your students’ parents on why nutrition is important for their kids to learn, and you will have more prepared students in the fall.

Reach Parents on Their Turf: Partner with Community Organizations

"Reach parents on their turf: partner with community organizations"

By Jessica Vician

Promoting parent engagement seems like a natural effort for school districts. After all, research suggests that when parent take an active role in their child’s education, schools see greater student performance, regular attendance, and the students develop strong social skills. Thanks to many district-sponsored parent engagement programs, these students have a better opportunity to achieve more in school and in life.

But some parents are weary of school efforts that step outside of the classroom and into the home. In these parents’ minds, the home is their “turf” and the school doesn’t have the right to tell them how to parent their children.

According to Dr. Becky Adams, a retired educator who is helping to revitalize the South Suburban Action Conference (SSAC) in Chicago’s south suburbs, it’s difficult to reach “parents who did not experience success in school…and therefore have little trust in the system.”

So how can schools reach these parents, who might need the help of a parent engagement program most of all? If parents don’t trust the school, they are unlikely to participate in any kind of school-sponsored program.

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Now Talk to Them: Summer Academics

What if your child lost two months of academic knowledge this summer? Summer activities can prevent that loss, but your student's parent doesn't know that. Now talk to them. You: Your Child's First Teacher parent engagement program

Many parents think that their children only develop academic skills at school. They don’t realize that if they don’t engage their children in summer learning activities, the kids will lose a significant amount of this year’s knowledge and go into the next school year at a disadvantage.

In fact, according to a 1996 study,

Most students lose about two months of grade level equivalency in mathematical computation skills over the summer months. Low-income students also lose more than two months in reading achievement, despite the fact that their middle-class peers make slight gains.

Talk to your students’ parents before the end of the school year. Send them an email or host an informal end-of-year open house in your classroom. Encourage them to purchase a math workbook and rent books from the library for their children to use over the summer. Parents need to know that these small steps can keep the students’ skills sharp for the next academic year.

Join the conversation on Twitter by using the hashtag #NowTalkToThem.

YOU: Your Child’s First Teacher Book Distribution Roll-Out Plan

YOU: Your Child's First Teacher books on a black background

By Jessica Vician

Did you know that a child only spends eight percent of his or her time in school from birth through high school graduation?

The other 92 percent of the time, the child is either at home or doing parent-approved activities.

How time is spent from birth through high school: 92% is spent at home, 8% is spent at school. Because 92% of a child's time is spent at home, parent engagement is critical. It starts with YOU.

That’s all the more reason to ensure that your students’ parents know how to practice effective parent engagement with their children so that they will perform better in school.

Giving your students’ parents the YOU: Your Child’s First Teacher book set is the first step in an effective parent engagement strategy for your school, but these parents must understand why they should read and implement the strategies presented in the books.

We recommend rolling out your parent engagement plan by presenting the books at a parent workshop, which teaches parents how to use the books, how to best communicate with the school, and how to care for their children in a way that helps them be successful in school and in life.

If you are unable to distribute the books at a parent workshop, consider these ideas to encourage parents to read and use the YOU: Your Child’s First Teacher books.

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Now Talk to Them: Reaching Non-English Speaking Parents

Imagine a parent moving to a country where they don't know anyone, can't speak the language, and are unfamiliar with the education system. Now talk to them. YOU: Your Child's First Teacher


As educators, it can be disheartening when we try to reach out to parents, but don’t get much–if any–response back from them. In fact, at some point we may even think they don’t care to talk to us.

Spend one minute thinking about the possibility that the parent may have come from another country and is facing major obstacles in order to be a fully engaged parent in the United States. Think about how would feel if you made that same type of life change.

Now talk to them. See how your communication approach changes. Find out what resources are available in your school, district, and community to help you reach that parent and establish a more meaningful and effective partnership.

At YOU: Your Child’s First Teacher, we understand that teachers can be working with students from very diverse backgrounds and experiences. These are the kinds of conversations and strategies we have with educators in our YOU Program training workshops. We know that effective parent engagement leads to student achievement and we want to work with your school and district to show you how.

If you found this topic helpful, please share it on social media with the hashtag #NowTalkToThem. It might help other educators, too.  

A Holistic Approach for Child Success

The comic strip image shows the success wheel, then a girl in a car. One of the tires goes flat, and the girl can't finish the race. Each tire represents one of the four core needs for child success. If one need isn't met, the child won't succeed.

By Ana Vela

We get a lot of questions from educators and parents about our YOU Program approach. In this holistic approach to child development and parenting, there are four areas for parents to address with their child: physical health, emotional well-being, social well-being, and academic success.

The YOU Program promotes helping a child with all four areas in a balanced manner. As educators, you might notice that parents tend to be great in one or two areas, but may not know how to help in the others. It’s important that all four areas are nurtured in order to contribute to a student’s academic success.

As you can see in the above illustration, if a student’s parents are not effectively nurturing one of those four areas, it will be more difficult for the student to succeed in school. That’s why it’s critical for educators and parents to learn how to work together to help each student succeed.

Boost Student Achievement Through These 5 Parental Involvement Tips

Success for every child means addressing four core needs for success: academic achievement, physical health, emotional well-being, social well-being. This is the holistic parent engagement approach of the YOU Your Child's First Teacher program.

By Jessica Vician

One of the requirements of a parent engagement program funded through Title I is to build capacity for involvement by teaching students’ parents how to help their children academically at home.

Our founder Sunny P. Chico has said that in over 35 years in the education industry, she has never met a parent who didn’t want to be a better parent. Some parents just need direction on how to help their children succeed. As an educator, you can teach them how to support their children’s classroom learning at home with these five tips.

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Talk to Them

Think about what a parent had to go through to get their child to school on time today. Now talk to them. YOU: Your Child's First Teacher Parent Engagement Program

As educators, we have a lot to juggle in a day. So much so that we may not take the time to plan effective communication with a student’s parent.

Spend one minute thinking about what that parent had to go through to get their child to school on time. Remind yourself of your own struggles this morning.

Now talk to them. See how your communication approach changes. Your continued patience and understanding can lead to a more meaningful and effective partnership with that parent. And a better partnership means better students.

These are the kinds of conversations and strategies we have with educators in our YOU Program Training Workshop. We know that effective parent engagement leads to student achievement and we want to work with your school and district to show you how.

3 Ways to Improve Communication Between Home and School

3 Ways to Improve Communication Between Home and School | This article serves as a tool to help Title I schools learn to better communicate with their students' parents.

Effective communication between home and school is critical to student achievement. But while educators send communication to parents in the forms of emails and letters in backpacks, parents may struggle with several issues, from feeling like they’re being talked at instead of engaging in a helpful conversation to having difficulty interpreting the message.

When we speak to parents at workshops, they frequently cite that educators talk in “edu-speak,” a language full of industry terms that people outside of the education field don’t understand. It’s difficult for the parents to translate this language into actions they can take with their children to help them succeed in school. They want to be engaged but need the right resources to know how to help their children.

With these factors working against effective communication, it’s no wonder that Title I schools struggle to close the achievement gap or maximize student success. As a fully bilingual parent engagement program, we have been successful in breaking down these communication barriers between educators and parents during our YOU Program workshops. Based on our experiences, here are some communication techniques that can benefit your school’s parents.  Continue reading

YOU Parent Community provides community support for a child’s success.

When you purchase the program, parents receive free access to YOU Parent, which supplements the YOU Program by offering expert tips and advice to address a child’s physical, social, emotional, and academic development.

YOU Parent is a safe, ad-free place for parents to share their experiences. Accessible on any device and available 24/7, the website is a great way to keep parents engaged on an ongoing basis.

Continuing the holistic approach established in the YOU Program, the articles address the latest parenting news and techniques and provide activities to continue a child’s learning outside of the classroom. YOU Program facilitators provide continuous support even after a workshop, as they answer questions from parents on the website.

Popular articles include:

Visit in English or Spanish today.

Training Manual

YOU Program Training Manual (available in English and Spanish)

Our YOU Program Training Manual is a comprehensive instructional tool that educators can use to inspire and connect with the parent community. All three YOU: Your Child’s First Teacher books are reproduced in the manual to ensure a seamless transition between the books and the workshop.

The Training Manual includes:

  • Tools to assess current parent engagement efforts
  • Worksheets to develop lesson plans for parent events
  • Robust instructional features
  • Expanded content includes workshop activities for every topic found in the YOU books
  • A program bibliography that outlines the research-based program support

The Training Manual is included with purchase of the YOU Program Training Workshop.

Training Manual Brochure Download
Download the brochure for more information.

Training and Development

Training Workshops | Teacher Training | IL Administrators’ Academy | Parent Leadership

YOU Program Training Workshop (available in English & Spanish)

Effective parent engagement leads to better students. That’s why our professional development team provides customized training for school staff, parent liaisons, parent leaders, and school administrators on how to effectively create and maintain sustained engagement in their parent population.

This interactive, 6-hour training and professional development workshop introduces professionals to the YOU Program, the YOU Program Training Manual, and the many tools and resources included within.

Training Workshop participants become educational professionals and workshop leaders who can identify cultural needs and obstacles within different communities.

Attendees will learn to:

  • Understand the impact that effective parent engagement has on student achievement
  • Navigate the YOU Program approach, books and training manual, and online community
  • Evaluate their current parent engagement strategies and efforts
  • Help parents understand and support college & career readiness
  • Conduct engaging parent events in a variety of delivery models for parents of all backgrounds
  • Strategize sustainable parent engagement efforts

Each Training Workshop participant receives the YOU Program Training Manual, which is included with every purchase.

Training Workshop BrochureDownload

YOU Program Teacher Training Workshop

Our professional development team trains your teaching staff to establish strategies for an effective home-school partnership.

As they implement these strategies, your school will see an increase in parent involvement and improved student performance, which allow your teachers to do what they do best: teach.

This workshop is uniquely designed for staff who work with parents of students, including: teachers, social workers, counselors, and coaches. Attendees will leave the workshop equipped with the skills and tools to engage in two-way, meaningful conversations with parents.

Attendees will learn to:

  • Implement effective parent engagement strategies
  • Evaluate & continuously improve teacher-parent partnerships
  • Improve the effectiveness of parent communication
  • Create an action plan to foster ongoing & meaningful communication with parents
  • Gain an in-depth knowledge of the YOU Program through activities
  • Implement the YOU Program curriculum when working with parents of all backgrounds

YOU Program Parent Leadership Training Workshop

As organizations look to build capacity for reaching parent engagement goals, they should look to leaders in their own community—parents.

In this workshop, we build parents’ leadership skills so they can take steps to organize parent events and meetings that satisfy the organization’s goals.

All attendees will:

  • Navigate the YOU Program curriculum and training manual
  • Evaluate their current parent engagement efforts
  • Conduct effective and engaging parent meetings/events
  • Integrate effective parent engagement into their organizational structure

ISBE-Approved Illinois Administrators’ Academy Course #1709

Promoting Parent Engagement for Student Success

This ISBE-approved, 6-hour workshop guides participants to build and maintain effective parent engagement opportunities within their school communities.

During the course, participants will:

  • Review current challenges that families are facing
  • Discover current research about the impact of parent engagement on student success
  • Evaluate your school’s current efforts at parent engagement
  • Examine research-based strategies to maximize the impact of parent meetings
  • Develop a parent engagement action plan to implement the 5 strategic steps for success

Parent engagement efforts provide parents with tools to help their children succeed—no matter their socioeconomic status or their own educational background—creating a generation of students who are ready to learn and set a new highly successful norm for the American education system.

This Illinois Administrators’ Academy course is only available through an Illinois Regional Office of Education (ROE). If you are interested in this course, please contact your local ROE.

Parent Workshop

YOU Program Parent Workshop (available in English & Spanish)

Our program specialists work with your school to introduce parents to a comprehensive parenting approach that covers everything from the physical, emotional, social, and academic growth and development of their child. Coupled with learning how to use the YOU Program, these lessons establish a meaningful and effective partnership between the school and the home.

During the workshop, parents learn to:

  • Reflect on what they do well and address areas to try new strategies
  • Navigate the program approach, books, and online community
  • Understand college & career readiness
  • Communicate and partner with schools
  • Share experiences and strategies with other parents
  • Set goals for effective engagement

The YOU Program Parent Workshops help schools:

  • Discuss customized topics based on their local needs and goals
  • Connect parents to resources that benefit the student
  • Teach parents how they can support academics at home
  • Empower parents to take leadership roles in the school
  • Change parent engagement culture

Schools and organizations receive a customized workshop summary packet that includes sign-in sheets, agenda and topics covered, evaluations, and reportable metrics.

Parent Workshop BrochureDownload


YOU: Your Child’s First Teacher eBook

The YOU: Your Child’s First Teacher eBook presents the same information as the print books, but includes a Parent Logbook with custom touchpoints and fillable worksheets to make it easy to digitally track a child’s progress. It is optimized for e-reading and is available on iPad, Kindle, or Kindle Fire.

Now Available on Amazon in English and Spanish.

eBook BrochureDownload
Download the brochure for more information.

3-Book Set

YOU: Your Child’s First Teacher 3-Book Set (also available in Spanish)

Parenting finally comes with a manual, and this is it. YOU: Your Child’s First Teacher is a guide for parents from the birth of their child through high school graduation and beyond. Anchored in the belief that a healthy child equals a successful student, it promotes all aspects of a child’s success: physical, emotional, social, and academic.

The set is split into 3 books based on significant transition stages in a child’s educational journey. Research indicates how critical these transitions are for student success, so these books help parents make that transition as smooth as possible.

The books are small, digestible, meant to be written in, full of activities and checklists, and weave in college and career readiness techniques starting at birth. In each book, parents learn how to:

Book 1, Through the Early Years

  • Model positive behavior
  • Provide children with healthy starts
  • Develop language, literacy, and bilingualism
  • Prepare for preschool and kindergarten

Book 2, Through Elementary and Middle School

  • Navigate their local school system
  • Effectively communicate and get involved with school
  • Support curriculum at home
  • Reinforce positive behavior and social skills

Book 3, Through High School and Beyond

  • Prepare for high school graduation requirements
  • Promote life skills for success
  • Foster skills and healthy living
  • Navigate the college admissions process
3-Book Set Brochure Download
Contact us for a free sample and to learn about our volume discounts.

Head Start Parent Engagement Outcomes

*The YOU Program is included in the Parenting Curricula Review Database for the Head Start Early Childhood Learning and Knowledge Center (ECLKC).

GOAL: Build positive parent-child relationships.

  • The YOU Program teaches parents research-based best practices for nurturing a child’s learning and development.
  • The YOU Program emphasizes positive reinforcement and healthy living.

GOAL: Promote families as lifelong educators.

  • The YOU Program teaches parents to model positive behaviors for the benefit of their child’s success.
  • The YOU Program provides parents with tasks and activities to reinforce lessons at home.

GOAL: Guide continued engagement through transitions.

  • The YOU Program outlines school options, requirements, and programs for each educational transition period.
  • The YOU Program encourages communication with teachers and school to foster academic success.

GOAL: Encourage parent support networks and school leadership.

  • The YOU Program showcases parent involvement opportunities in schools.
  • The YOU Program empowers parents to support and seek advice from other parents in their communities.