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ERIC Number: ED566954
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2015
Pages: 10
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 2
Don't Stop Stuffing the Backpacks!: Parents of English Language Learners Share School-Home Communication Preferences
Hoffman, Lisa; Podikunju-Hussain, Shifa; Ridout, Susan
Online Submission
As communications in U.S. society become more digitally focused, many schools have transitioned toward using more digital technology for school-home communications. Across the country, many schools and teachers now disseminate information to students' parents using email listserv, text message, Twitter, Facebook, and other applications such as Edmodo or Class Dojo. Digital communication between school and home can have many benefits, including increased convenience and reliability and decreased environmental impact. However, moving school-home communications from paper-based flyers and letters sent home in children's backpacks to primarily digital media may have unintended consequences such as exacerbating the "digital divide" that still exists among families with less financial and material access to digital technology. It is unclear whether increasingly digital school-home communication methods are more or less desirable to many parents of English language learners. This study involved surveys of Spanish-speaking and English-speaking parents of English language learner students in seven Head Start, Even Start, and elementary schools in four Indiana public school corporations. Parents were asked what type of information they wanted to receive from their child's school and how they would prefer to receive that information. Findings revealed that both English-speaking and Spanish-speaking parents expected to work with their students on academics at home and wanted information from their child's school about supporting academics at home. More Spanish-speaking than English-speaking parents reported that they would like to receive information from the school about specific ways to help their child with a variety of school readiness skills at home. These findings contrast with popularly held misconceptions that low-income parents (such as those participating in Head Start programs) and non-English-speaking parents are less interested in family involvement with their children's education. The majority of both Spanish-speaking and English-speaking parents indicated a preference for receiving written material sent home in backpacks. Survey results indicated that technology dependent communication methods, such as email and teacher blogs, were the least desirable to the parents in this study. The article ends with recommended questions educators can ask about how their school communicates with parents. [This paper was originally published in "INTESOL Newsletter" (Indiana Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages), Fall 2015.]
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: Elementary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Indiana