Fostering communication between school and home

By John Miller
Saturday, August 27, 2011

Many people who have worked in the field of Deaf Education have had to deal with an alarming statistic that has plagued the field for a long time. The average reading level of the exiting or graduating deaf senior is that of a 4th grader. It has fluctuated over the years but for the most part it is still much lower than any of us would care to accept.

I have heard many different explanations as to why this is the case. It may be because over 90% of our deaf children are born into hearing families, and are therefore raised in homes where sign language is not the native language of the household. (As an aside, one of Signing Savvy's goals is to help hearing family members improve their sign language communication with deaf family members.)

It may also be that the structure of education just isn't as cohesive and friendly to the deaf student as it is to the hearing student because of the mass amounts of language that a child is expected to understand and use throughout their day.

Regardless of these obstacles, we, as educators just need to do school smarter! That is, we need to do a better job at using the resources we have out there to foster the growth of a more literate student. Don't take this wrong, teachers work very hard to educate the students they have, but if we could educate them more efficiently, then we both come out looking...and being, SMARTER!

The blog articles we call Teaching Tips aim to do just that. They give you ways to look at things you may already be doing in your classrooms but adding an edge to them to take you to that next level.

We all know that one of the keys to a successful student is one that has involved, productive parents. Yet many times the parents feel very disconnected from what is happening at school. They often aren't (or don't feel) welcome in the classroom. The problem is exacerbated because the child has very little to share with their parents once they arrive home. Right away this causes a disconnect between home and school.

I want to spend the next few Teaching Tips blogs to discuss some ways to help foster communication between school and home. We will start at the elementary level and work our way up. I encourage you to comment and share your own experiences and ideas along the way. Don't look at this as just for school teachers either. Many of the ideas would work well in ANY teaching situation where you are working with children and parents (families).

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