3 Parent Tips For Advocacy In ESL
By: Suzie Dalien, M.Ed.
Parents are integral to helping their children through school. This is even more important if you have a child enrolled in an ESL (English As A Second Language) program. You serve as your child’s advocate in the school system, and your child needs you to help them through all of the ins and outs of working with the different educators involved in the schools ESL program. As you decide the best way to help your child reach academic excellence within the ESL program, consider these three tips.
1. Communicate Consistently With Your Child’s Educators
I can’t stress enough how important it is to know what’s going on inside your child’s classroom(s). Constant communication through email, phone calls, or even stopping into the school is vital to your child’s academic growth. Let the teacher(s) know you are available to attend meetings, follow up on meetings, and help your child with academic and social work after school. After all, you are the captain of your child’s educational team, and staying in communication with your their teachers and counselors can truly assist your child in reaching their goals.
This level of commitment by you, in turn, gives your child the confidence they need to succeed. If you are from another country, you may find that, culturally, this form of parent involvement in education is different than where you are from. In the US, a growing number of parents are becoming much more involved in their child’s education. Classroom sizes are growing and budgets declining causing a massive void in available resources. Alternatives such as after school special education tutoring (for children with special needs), and even homeschooling are rapidly growing in popularity.
2. Understand How ESL Testing Works In Your State
ESL students take a test each year to evaluate their progress. In some states, this mandatory test is called the ACCESS, which is published by WIDA. In order to find out the name of the test or who publishes it, ask your child’s ELL (English Language Learner) teacher. Once you determine which test is used, go to the website of the publisher and find out more regarding how the test is structured and your state’s score requirements for exit from the program. As a parent, this research will give you insight as to how you can help your child “graduate” out of the program faster.
3. Be Involved And Volunteer At Your Child’s School
The community surrounding children enrolled in ESL is vast. It’s always recommended that as a parent, you join groups filled with like minded individuals. Groups and additional ways to be involved include;
- The school’s parent-teacher organization
- A Committee of parents of English language learner students
- Attend and participate in your school’s multicultural night
- Volunteer in your child’s ELL or regular classroom
As a parent, you can be of tremendous help to a teacher in a number of ways. Even if English is your second language and you’re still learning try something as simple as reading a book in your native language to the class! The point is to be part of your child’s education in person so that you will know what is going on and how to make school easier and more enjoyable for your child.
Moving to a new community can be difficult, especially if you and your child are still learning English and may have difficulty communicating. The most important thing to remember is; you are not alone! Thousands of families migrate to the US every year and there are a tremendous number of support groups and resources at your finger tips.