Dual Language SchoolsOpinion Piece: The Importance of Parents in Education

03/2019
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By Marga Marshall, principal of Holbrook Language Academy

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When I had the honor to be appointed as the principal of a school that was going to reopen in 2017 as a Dual Language Academy, my first question was: what do parents of the students coming to this school need to know and how can we work together to make this program successful for our students?

As the proud principal of Holbrook Language Academy, a Mt. Diablo Unified School District Regional Magnet School, located in Concord, CA, I have the opportunity to collaborate with parents weekly or monthly, keep them informed, and provide resources for them so "our" students are successful in learning a new Language.

Holbrook Language Academy opened with a Transitional Kindergarten (TK), Two Way Dual Immersion (TWDI) class, and two Kindergarten TWDI classes last year. The rest of the grade levels were monolingual and will be fading out as the program continues to grow. We went from only three classes in TWDI last year to seven this year, and grew with one hundred more students in the 2018-2019 school year.

A significant feature of effective programs is the incorporation of family and community engagement and collaboration with the school (National Academies, 2017). Research shows that most parents of ethnically and linguistically diverse students have high aspirations for their children and want to be involved in promoting their academic success (Glick & White, 2004; Ji & Koblinsky, 2009; LindholmLeary, 2001; Sibley & Dearing, 2014). From the Guiding Principles of Dual Language Schools - third Edition

As an educator, not only do you work in collaboration with your staff members to provide quality education for the students, you also work together to provide support and resources to parents. Our students are mainly English-Speaking students learning Spanish. Program recruitment efforts are aimed at enrolling equal numbers of Spanish speaking English learners, fluent English proficient students, and English-speaking Spanish learning students, but currently we only have 17% of Spanish speaking English Learners. The goal of the program is to develop academic language proficiency in English and Spanish, master grade level core standards, and develop cultural proficiency.

Most of our parents are monolingual (English) who understand the benefits of being bilingual and want their students to learn a second (or third) language.

Before Kindergarten Registration, we provide two Parent Information Nights for upcoming parents to TK and K TWDI program. During these nights, parents meet the teachers in the program, they are provided with research behind Dual Language Programs, how the program looks at Holbrook Language Academy, schedules, and given the opportunity to listen to personal stories from students and parents already in the program. We think this is important to give them an insider's look at our program.

Continue reading to learn more about the importance of parents in DL education...

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