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NYC Helpline: How To: Work with Students' Families

Helping Parents Deal with Promotion in Doubt Letters  by Linda Mandracchia

January-February is the time when Promotion in Doubt (PID) letters get sent to your students’ homes. Someone at your school probably gave you some criteria   about who should get a PID letter based on reading level, math, or ELA scores.  So the letters go out, you make your appointments with your parents and they come to meet with you and now- what do you tell them?  How do you get their child up to standards, or at least up to promotional standards?

First of all- know what the promotional criteria for your grade is.  If it is particular reading level and your student is below that level, you could then show the parent the level and encourage them to read or get books on that level.  Encouraging parents to read with or to their children is still one of the best ways to get children to improve their reading.  In the book Best Practice Today’s Standards for Teaching and Learning in America’s Schools, by Zemelman, Daniels and Hyde, it is suggested that kids should be read to every day. We all know the reality though: both parents work long hours and come home exhausted. Still, the importance of this activity must be stressed. If the parent is not available, then perhaps some other adult, the baby sitter, a grandparent, an older sibling, could do some of the reading. 

I remember a good friend of mine whose son was in first grade, complaining to me that he was behind in his reading.  She was a working mom and got home at 8:00 every night.  She asked me for some suggestions on how to help her son.  I told her to train her sitter to do all the other homework and leave the reading for her to do each night before her son went to bed.  Although, 8:00 PM was a little late for a six-year-old to be read to, she found it helped and they looked forward to their time together every night.

Some other suggestions to offer your students' parents are:

The International Reading Association web site offers commonsense advice to parents about reading for preschool age through the teenage years.

If parents lack a computer or are economically unable to purchase lots of books, you can still encourage creating a rich print environment with newspapers and library books.

Incorporating reading, writing and even talking about literacy at home could become a regular part of your student’s lives and would increase their performance in school.  Encouraging parents to become partners in their child’s education by reading to them, providing a literate environment and modeling reading could also help your students achieve promotional standards.

Do you have a question or comment about this article? E-mail Linda.



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