As we talk about the Common Core Standards, it is essential that we bring attention to our most important partners: parents. Today, I am going to talk about helping parents understand the Common Core Standards.
Send Home Your Standards
To start, parents will need access to your state/grade-level standards. So, send them home! You can print a copy or send a digital document, but make sure that parents and guardians have a way to read them. It’s also a good idea to keep the standards linked on your website or online dashboard. This applies to any state standards, as well. If your state hasn’t adopted the CCSS, all of this advice still applies. Just, simply use your specific state’s standards and resources.
Provide Parents with the Key Shifts in ELA
Secondly, we will need to provide parents and guardians information about the “changes” or differences in the standards. It will be helpful for them to understand that, in ELA, there is a shift in focus. We must help them understand that instead of keeping our focus directly on individual precise skills, that we want students to develop as whole readers and writers, that we want them to build knowledge and skills through regular practice, complex texts, and repeated exposure to academic language. There is a well-written explanation of the shifts in standards for ELA on the CCSS website.
Link: Core Standards Key Shifts
Focus on the Benefits
Unfortunately, there can sometimes be some confusion when parents are faced with the Common Core Standards. Because the strategies and standards may look different than they did while they were in school, it is important that we help them understand the why. Try to focus on the benefits of the “new” strategies. Communicate why they are more effective and how they will help your students succeed. Shine light on the fact that the standards will help develop students into well-rounded learners, building life-long skills and strategies over quick solutions and easy tricks.
To address some of the misconceptions, share the Myths Vs. Facts section of the Common Core Standards website. It helps correct some of the more common misunderstandings that are out there.
Include a Detailed Space in the Weekly Newsletter
Your weekly (or monthly) newsletter is a great place to house CCSS information! Your parents and guardians are likely already reading the information there. So, it isn’t adding another thing to their list. Consider keeping a section open for CCSS information. Whether you highlight the standards you are currently teaching, or preview upcoming standards, this is a great way for parents to stay informed and be ready to help at home!
Plan a Curriculum Night
Curriculum Nights are a great way for you to show parents what their students will be learning. For these events, you may want to prepare a short slideshow presentation or handout that gives specific information about the content areas and standards that the students will be learning. Many times, it will help to provide a run-down of your schedule, what your blocks may look like, and any major projects or themes that you will focus on.
Curriculum Nights are a great way to open the lines of communication with parents. Not only will they have an opportunity to learn more about the content, but it is also an excellent opportunity for parents to ask questions that they still have. This will help put you both at ease for future conversations about content!
Send a Link to the National PTA
The National PTA website is a useful tool for parents and guardians of all ages. Their website has information to help ensure student success. There are even parent guides to each grade level that include key terms, at-home activities, and tips and tricks for building college- and career-ready students.
Link: Parent Guides for Grade Levels
Suggest Apps to Use
Lastly, you can recommend apps that can help your parents understand the standards. These are handy, easy-access tools that parents can pull up anywhere. The Common Core Standards app is easy to navigate and has everything you need to know about each standard! Explore the Core is a Math specific app that breaks down each of the standards with examples and scenarios!
The important thing to remember is that you and your classroom parents are a team! You are all working toward the same goal: success for their student. So, consider helping your parents understand the common core standards.