Klea Scharberg

Engaging Latino Parents in Student Learning

Throughout the United States, classrooms are becoming more diverse and educators are struggling to provide the resources English language learners need to be successful. What can educators do to help ensure that these students, especially the rapidly increasing Latino population, get the attention and education they need?

Authors David Campos, Rocio Delgado, and Mary Esther Soto Huerta assert that it's time for the education community to tap into parent involvement to shatter the 28 percent nationwide dropout rate for Latino students. In their new book, Reaching Out to Latino Families of English Language Learners, they argue that with more than 5 million new students—the majority of whom will be Latino—projected to enroll in U.S. schools by 2025, now is the time to take action.

K–12 educators of any discipline or professional level can use the book to

  • Access reproducible form letters in English and Spanish that can be used to collect valuable insight on students from the people who know them best.
  • Better understand elements of Latino culture that relate closely to student learning.
  • Connect with Latino websites and literature that can be used in the classroom.
  • Build a campus task force that can induct Latino parents and families into the process of student learning.

In this Talks With an Author interview, Campos, Delgado, and Soto Huerta discuss how reaching out in the community is essential to helping English learners perform on a consistent basis and how teachers can make sure all students are getting a proper and equal education.

Reaching Out to Latino Families of English Language Learners helps educators understand the cultural factors that contribute to the incorrect perception that Latino parents have little interest in engaging with their children's schools. It also offers educators tools and strategies for fostering communication and knowledge sharing, and bridging the divide between school and home.

Comments (7)

Andew Montano

September 14, 2014

I loved the comment that our Latino populations bring strengths into the school populations and that we as teachers need to make connections to those students and families to promote equity for our minority families.  This doesn’t just hold true for Latino’s but all minorities in our schools and communities.  Language is also not the only barrier for these students, but poverty plays a deep role as well.  I know from working with the migrant populations in the Coachella Valley, education is important to these people.  The teacher is held in high regard and families want to develop the relationship discussed in this video with the teacher and the school.

Krista Reilly

September 17, 2014

The authors spoke to many points relative to the population we serve at Garden Hills. The part that resonated with me most, was when they spoke of how more of the “mainstream” culture considers the parent as the child’s first teacher. The Latino culture tends to consider the teacher as the expert, relying upon their education and expertise when it comes to their child’s learning. I took that to mean that this may signify the need for teachers to initiate communication with parents in order to ensure that a concerted collaborative effort is made to ensure student success both academically and socially in school. This communication needs to happen early and often. There are numerous skills that need to be mastered in primary grades, requiring reading readines, basic number sense and social . If parents wait for a child to enroll in kindergarten we tend to face significant challenges preventing us, as educators from preparing students for a successful academic experience.

Matt Rogers

September 18, 2014

This book would be an awesome resource for every adminstrative team in our North Atlanta cluster. Perhaps we could do a book study around it as well.  I liked the reference that one author made regarding the importance of knowing themselves as a pre-requisite for successfully working within a diverse communities. They also encourage teachers to challenge students and make resources available to them if they are low SES; do not allow that to change expectations.  In addition, gaining a better understanding of the family’s cultural aspirations is important as teachers/schools work to support students individually and collectively.

Dennise Daniel

September 18, 2014

Reaching out to Latino Families was quite riveting!  What I admire most about the latino population at our school is that most of the parents themselves have never been formally educated in their own language and may lack necessary academic skills.  However, they make it a priority that their children are educated.  They are supportive of all school functions with their time and resources.

Tommy Usher

September 18, 2014

Teachers and administrators need to really be ready to build true and authentic relationships with students and the families they serve. Without a willingness to go beyond the classroom it will be difficult to truly engage students and parents in a genuine relationship with learning as the focus. The comment regarding poverty is very real for the students at GHES. Many of our parents are not able to visit the school and/or engage with the school like families from higher socio-economic backgrounds. Given this, we must be willing/comfortable with taking the school to communities where our students and families live.

Tommy Usher

September 18, 2014

Teachers and administrators need to really be ready to build true and authentic relationships with students and the families they serve. Without a willingness to go beyond the classroom it will be difficult to truly engage students and parents in a genuine relationship with learning as the focus. The comment regarding poverty is very real for the students at GHES. Many of our parents are not able to visit the school and/or engage with the school like families from higher socio-economic backgrounds. Given this, we must be willing/comfortable with taking the school to communities where our students and families live.

Tene Johnson

September 18, 2014

This video had a lot of great points. I think they were correct in acknowleging the fact that the Latino population is booming and soon there will be quite a few Spanish speaking students in the classroom. I think those students will also be an asset to the community by bringing in diversity and their own customs and traditions. It is quite important that the school understand what the family expectations are as far as school is concerned. Often times the teachers are seen as the expert and parents feel that the teachers know what is best for their child. (If only everyone thought like this…lol) They feel this way though because most are not educated and feel the teacher knows best because after all they are “college educated.” I found it interesting that they made a great point that you can’t lump all Spanish speaking students in the same category. They all come from different places and have different socio economic backgrounds and we need to be mindful of that. Lastly, I felt a great point was made by saying depending on where you are from you may not know how the schooling is done here in the United States and teachers might need to explain so that parents understand what the student is expected to know and learn. This video was insightful and I feel was extremely relevant to this class.

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