Increasing Parent Engagement Will Secure Your Child a Better Future

When we’re discussing parent engagement, we’re talking about efforts made by parents which directly contribute to a child’s success in school and subsequently, in life. It’s an idea based on the collaboration between parents and school staff with the goal of improving the development of children.

The idea itself is not very new. We’ve known for over 120 years that parents and teachers should work together and the rich history of the National Parent Teacher Association is the proof of that. However, the relationship in that alliance has evolved significantly in the last couple of decades and the positive effects of parent engagement are duly recognized in the scientific community.

How Does It Benefit Your Child?

Research has shown that engaging parents in their child’s education can be very valuable for the child in more ways than one. Numerous studies support the thesis that parent engagement increases academic achievement through improved school attendance, higher grades, and better test scores. This effect is produced by a number of factors, which include setting high expectations, developing useful routines and habits, creating an environment that encourages learning, building a warm and cooperative home setting, and actively supporting the child   All of these factors also contribute to the parent as a strong role model.

But parent engagement affects child development beyond these school-defined conditions and it can also help build desirable character traits. Having engaged parents can inspire more positive attitudes towards particular subjects and reduce the risk of children getting involved with substance abuse and problematic behavior. Lastly, it increases confidence and helps children become more well-adjusted.

Types of Parent Engagement

A great way for differentiating between different types of parent engagement is through the use of Dr. Joyce Epstein’s Framework. She recognizes six types of parental involvement:

  1. Parenting – establishing a proper home environment that provides the child with optimal learning conditions
  2. Communicating – creating effective, two-way channels of communication between parents and the school staff
  3. Volunteering – engaging parents in volunteering practices to help with school-related activities
  4. Learning at home – providing parents with helpful information which empowers them to take part in and contribute to home-learning activities
  5. Decision making – including parents in school-related decisions and providing them with a forum to express their opinions
  6. Collaborating with community – utilizing community resources to improve school practices and student learning

Since parent engagement is a team effort, both the parents and the school bear the responsibility of taking an active approach. There is plenty that can be done on each side of the partnership, but the primary condition is acting in good faith while acknowledging the importance these activities will have on child development.

What Can Teachers Do?

The school normally reaches out to the parents and establishes channels of communication, but that doesn’t mean it always should. The teacher’s role in parent engagement is consultative but with high demands for taking initiative. They should actively partake in all of the 6 types of parent engagement because their expertise is invaluable in these situations.

Building strong and personal relationships around mutual goals are key for making all other attempts impactful and efficient. If you succeed to make this the foundation, you can build on it by consulting or educating parents. Invite them to learn more about what’s going on at school and give them a chance to influence the decisions that are being made. The parents will also be more open to engaging in school activities and volunteering if they are better acquainted with you and your goals. Finally, try to build the momentum of cooperative spirit by including the community’s resources to improve the learning experiences of children.

What Can Parents Do?

Any activity a parent engages in with a goal of improving their child’s education is a valid topic for discussion with teachers, including some of the other members of the school staff. So whatever you do, try to make an effort to seek out and utilize their council. They’re experienced in education, well-acquainted with your child’s situation and might have some insights about your child’s behavior you aren’t aware of.

One of the suggestions for parents is todevelop the right environment for their children. Children will spend a vast majority of their time at home. But just because they’re not at school doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be learning. At home with our kids, we can provide them with a relaxed and informal way of getting to know the world  and its intricacies. There are many ways in which you can create a great learning environment at home.

Parents should also work on communicating with their children. Start by simply talking more often and work your way up the ladder. You can even create daily routines that will allow you an opportunity to talk to one another or adjust the existing ones where talking won’t distract you from what you’re doing. Chores and mealtimes are a great place to start. Be sure to show interest in their activities and praise effort over results.

What’s Stopping You from Being More Engaged in Your Child’s Education?

A  parent’s greatest joy is to see their child grow and learn. We want them to be confident, responsible and develop habits for being productive in the workplace of tomorrow. Most of us are aware that we can contribute to our child’s education, yet we’re not always choosing to do so. Is it that we’re too tired from working all day and we can’t focus because our energy levels are running low? Or is it that we think they’ll be better off if they do it all by themselves? It’s an interesting question to ask, and it is one that can shed light on what we prioritize over our child’s education.

Studies show our engagement can improve our child’s chances of success but how engaged should we get? The answer may change based on a given situation, but parent engagement certainly needs to be a balanced effort. Your best bet is probably staying somewhere in the middle, trying not to fall into the trap of being too careless with your child, but still allowing them room to grow and explore.

AuthorBio: Mark is a biz-dev hero at Invoicebus – a simple invoicing service that gets your invoices paid faster. He passionately blogs on topics that help small biz owners succeed in their business. He is also a lifelong learner who practices mindfulness and enjoys long walks in nature more than anything else.

How To Become Financially Literate

The first step to achieving financial independence is to become financially literate. Becoming financially literate means understanding how the world of finance operates. What rules and laws govern that world? When you learn how the finance world works, then you can make better decisions about what rules to follow and what rules to break. Developing financial literacy takes time, since you will always have more to learn, but getting started is quite simple. Here are 7 ways to achieve financial literacy that you can start doing today.

1. Pick up the paper

Start reading everything you can about finance. Yes, you can buy books on the subject (or better yet, check them out at the library or download them) but you can also learn a lot just by reading the finance section of your local paper. If physical newspapers are not your thing, you can also read the financial section of the Wall Street Journal, Barron’s, Fortune, Forbes and Money.

2. Read Rich Dad, Poor Dad

While much of the financial advice in this book flies in the face of traditional investment wisdom, there are reasons it remains one of the bestselling financial books of all time. Just remember, don’t believe everything you read, but that doesn’t mean you can’t pick up some great advice.

3. Avoid “get rich quick” schemes 

One of the fastest ways to lose all your money is to invest in pyramid schemes. The world – and the internet – is full of people promising you fast wealth and instant results. There is no quick and easy path to wealth. There are longer ways and shorter ways, but they all take discipline, determination and patience. Don’t believe anyone that tells you differently, and definitely don’t give them your money.

4. Use financial management tools 

Before you can build wealth, you must understand your own habits and patterns and what you are currently doing with the money you have. Personal financial management tools like Mint from Quickbooks is free to use and can give you a tremendous amount of insight into your personal financial habits. Building wealth often involves breaking bad spending habits, but in order to break them you have to understand what they are.

5. Take a class or attend a seminar

Not only will taking a class or attending a seminar help to build financial literacy, but it will also put you in contact with other like-minded individuals. You aren’t going to be able to learn all by yourself or even build wealth by yourself. It will take a network of people to help you. Some people in your support group will be experienced, some will not, but they will all possess knowledge and information you do not. They can help talk you down from the ledge when things get turbulent and can also be a good sounding board for any crazy ideas you may have.

6. Find a mentor

Chances are you know someone either in the financial world or who is a successful investor. They don’t necessarily have to be a millionaire to be successful, just financially stable. If you know anyone who is not constantly worried about money, then chances are good they are a financially literate.

7. Dive in

One of the best ways to learn about investing is to invest. You will always be more interested in something you have a stake in than something you don’t. You can retain the services of a professional firm to help you get started, or you can do it alone using a self-service apps but the best way to learn is to just do it. You don’t have to invest your life’s savings or bet the farm just yet (in fact, you shouldn’t) but you should at least dip your toe in the water to get started.

 

Brittany Waddell is a contributing writer and media specialist for NexGen Wealth. She often produces content for a variety of finance blogs.

Creative Writing Workshops Benefit Literacy

 On September 23, 2013, I sat down at the desk in my childhood bedroom with a pencil and a blue plaid notebook and began writing what I could only assume would become the next great American novel. I tailored the story to my sister’s interests so I wouldn’t lose my only audience member and I (am ashamed to say) stole half of my plot from a James Patterson novel. By the time my work progressed to a second notebook, it was chock-full of completely autonomous teenagers, the governmental authorities trying to take them down, and countless grammatical errors. Yikes!

While this may have been the piece that ignited my passion for creative writing, I can say with confidence that my prose has gained much more originality and potential in the past five years. In fact, this March I presented the narrative approach of my (new) unpublished manuscript at the Mid-East Honors Association Conference in Columbus, Ohio.

One of the main things that helped me to become a better writer was enrolling in creative writing workshops. The workshops not only shaped a foundation for my writing skills, but allowed me to discover the benefit of having others critique my work. In fact, I loved the class so much that I decided to make creative writing my major! Now, I’m a junior at Baldwin Wallace University and want to help others experience the extensive joys and benefits of writing.

For that reason, I founded a small startup, Ink Above All, an organization that offers creative writing workshops to both adults and high school students living in North East Ohio. The workshops are taking place at Avon Oaks Country Club in Avon, and run for two weeks each. I hope these workshops will serve to improve not only the English and writing skills of those enrolled, but will provide them with a safe environment for creative collaboration. I want everyone involved to feel liberated to express themselves, take creative risks, and communicate freely, because no matter who you are or where you’re from, you have a story to tell.

What you’re passionate about is what makes you unique, and there’s a story in that just waiting to be told. If you’ve never thought about putting pen to paper (or hands to keyboard) and telling your story, now might just be the time. Even if you don’t want to tell your story, there are so many things waiting to be written about. Just think, from activism and political movements to your dreams and made up fantasies, there’s no limit on what you could create.

So, why should you get out and write something? Because creative writing has been shown to positively impact your brain in more ways than one! Writing creatively not only affects your ability to write, but it improves your memory, increases your intelligence, and furthers your vocabulary.  Additionally, a workshop allows you to “develop your creative thinking and problem-solving abilities by analyzing different writing styles and working on your own projects.” This is a valuable skill set for any career.

Furthermore, the workshop environment gives you an opportunity to practice giving and receiving constructive criticism. This translates into improved critical thinking skills and an ability to evaluate the work of your colleagues. You will learn to organize ideas, write with clarity, and think logically to organize a story. Moreover, being around a diverse group of personalities will make you well-rounded as an individual. As a workshop participant, you will gain confidence, lasting friends, and a passion for writing.

The environment that you chose to write in makes a difference, which is why I’ve decided to hold Ink Above All’s workshops in a beautiful conference room overlooking an extensive golf course. Additionally, I set aside some designated workshop days for participants to go outside and experience writing in nature. The practice of spending time outdoors is fleeting in our technology-fueled culture despite the fact that it has been associated with all kinds of benefits ranging from mental clarity to increased creativity.

Workshops offer writers a new environment in which to learn and develop further social intelligence. Social intelligence is made up of two separate elements, social awareness, and social facility. Social awareness “refers to qualities including empathy, attunement to others and social cognition,” whereas social facility refers to “how we use our internal social awareness to interact with individuals and groups successfully, such as self-presentation, influence and concern for others.” Both of these skill sets are considered a long-term benefit of extracurricular summer activities, such as writing workshops, and will follow students for the rest of their lives, making a huge impact on future careers.

If you’re interested, I encourage you to grab a pen and sign up for a workshop, because you have a story, and the world is waiting to hear it.

www.InkAboveAll.org

https://www.facebook.com/InkAboveAll/

Financial Literacy in the Workforce by Teresha Sims, a NEO SkillCORP Member

I made a life changing decision in June 2017 to leave a job that I depended on as my safety net for 25 years to embark on an unknown journey. Passionate about workforce development, I interviewed for the service position with AmeriCorps NEO SKILLS CORP, an organization that provides services to low-income communities in the areas of Workforce Development and Financial Literacy. I had been interested in finding a way into this field for some time and I accepted the position within a matter of hours. My host site is The Council for Economic Opportunities in Greater Cleveland (CEOGC) and I teach inside of their existing Customer Service Certification Program, a six week program. I teach financial literacy five of the six weeks for a total of fifteen 1 hour workshops, and also teach in a four day Job Readiness Program, where I teach one day for 1 1/2 hours.

After attending training with my AmeriCorps manager, it was now time to perform my duties as a Financial Literacy Facilitator. I now had to determine how to incorporate the curriculum provided by my host site, AmeriCorps, with my own developed curriculum (approved by the host site manager and within the scope of AmeriCorps guidelines). My first day to teach class was the day after hire. What I didn’t know was this class was getting ready to graduate. That meant I had to teach 15 workshops in three days, give unit tests, and put together my presentations. I started the planning process with both curriculum, a few documents, the names and contact numbers of my other AmeriCorps members and AmeriCorps Manager, and some information from the past AmeriCorps member who held my current position the prior year.

Today, I have systems that I have developed, resources, researched material, sample folders for each workshop that mirror what I give to my class, a workshop schedule (my guide), workshop folders for each workshop that include my handouts and additional teaching points, 15 workshop/session curriculum, employees who want the information, people who receive individual coaching, and over 50 people who I have touched in some way with the information I have provided since September 2017. Beginning June 2018, I will start teaching Financial Literacy in the M.O.V.E.R.S (Millennial’s Occupation Vocation Education Resource Services) Program for young adults 18-24. This presents another challenge: “How do you get young adults to value financial information and understand why it should be important to them NOW?”

I have developed a passion for providing financial information to the community of people I service every day. I get so inspired when I see and hear how they use the information to improve their lives one step at a time. This proves the field of Financial Literacy is important to the lives of the people we can reach. I believe the field of Adult Financial Literacy is extremely important yet undervalued by most. The knowledge provided in a good financial literacy program can be life changing for many people. In my first workshop, I have my students start with the end in mind. For many of the students, this is the first time they have been asked to “Dream.” Some are reluctant, some are baffled, some do not know where to start, some are eager, and some think the activity is a waste of time (you can’t win them all). When I see the look on their faces as I present the material, I realize that I am empowering them, inspiring them, and giving many of them the hope that was lost or hope that never existed before in their lives. By the end of my first three workshops, most of my students know I believe in them. I realize, as the facilitator, I have to encourage many of them to believe in themselves.

As financial literacy professionals we must be able to reach people where they are in life if we want to truly change how people view the field of Financial Literacy and the professional within the field. For this reason, it is a must to find facilitators who are passionate about working with the population they service and truly seek to understand their issues and experiences.

A good Financial Literacy program should:

  1. Help people understand their current situation.
  2. Change the mindset that lead to their existing financial problems and behaviors.
  3. Provide financial knowledge to individuals that can be passed down to their children, grandchildren, etc.
  4. Give participants the platform to discuss various financial topics, share experiences, and learn new information.
  5. Help individuals determine their own financial destination and develop their own roadmap to reach that destination with the facilitator’s assistance.
  6. Introduce young adults to the knowledge early enough in life, so they can develop the mindset and ability to make informed decisions that will help them reach their financial destination. For some, this might be their first exposure to the financial information discussed in class.
  7. Show the more senior adults that it is not too late to think about their finances. A good program should also help them use the financial knowledge provided in the workshop to create a realistic financial destination for their lives.
  8. Offer some form of individual coaching opportunity if possible. For some people, finances are very personal.
  9. Encourage students to take ACTION.

I want to invite you to share your feelings about the nine reasons I highlighted above. I invite financial literacy facilitators to add to this list. This list demonstrates the true value behind a good Adult Financial Literacy Program.

After six months in the field, I can also identify a few struggles I have noticed and struggles that have been expressed to me during some of my workshops. The struggles are different for different age groups.

There are the 12 struggles I would like to highlight:

  1. Many professionals who service our student population fail to understand how the financial literacy field impacts their work with individuals and families.
  2. There is a vast need for more funding allocations/grants toward the expansion of financial literacy for people of all socioeconomic levels and all communities. There is a misconception that only low-income people are financially illiterate.
  3. There exists a great need to help people understand how having financial information and implementing what they learn into their lives can lead to better financial outcomes for themselves and their families. For some people, this translates into helping them build self-efficacy.
  4. One struggle facilitators might face is getting people to focus on implementing these practices if they do not have a job or income coming into the household.
  5. For senior adults, the struggle is getting them to first understand that it is not too late to do something to improve a bad financial situation. The second struggle is to get them to believe the information provided is still relevant to their lives.
  6. For young adults, the struggle is helping them to understand why they need to learn this information. Many young adults live for today. The need for future planning is a challenge for some young adults to grasp.
  7. Getting people to complete programs is a major struggle when they desperately need income to feed and provide a roof over their families’ heads. These people want work not programs.
  8. We often start much too late. Financial Education (as l like to call it) should begin as early as pre- school.
  9. We need to change the perception that only low-income people need financial literacy. I have many employees asking for the information for themselves. I had a doctor who felt he could use some financial education.
  10. We need to have facilitators who can act as a Peer-Coach. This person understands the experiences (that sometimes hold them back), struggles, and barriers that students face as they try to follow our recommendations. Some people need more than just the information if we want to see them succeed.
  11. Facilitators need accessibility to recommended local resources for issues beyond our scope of knowledge to share with the people we service, such as bankruptcy, consolidation, landlord/tenant housing assistance, tax advice, etc. All of these issues impact finances and a person’s ability to focus on the financial information we provide.
  12. It is often a struggle to get people to sign-up for a financial literacy only workshop or program. I am not an advocate for providing incentives to people to entice them to sign-up or complete a workshop or program that will benefit them at the end.

I believe we can work together to bring about meaningful solutions to these struggles. Here are some possible solutions I believe would make a great impact:

  1. Bring awareness to all stakeholders.
  2. The value of financial literacy needs to be highlighted to all professionals working with the people we service and financial literacy professionals need to be part of the conversation or preferably have a seat at the table. Some professionals may not be aware that at the root of their problem with the people they service is finances. It our job to make the connection.
  3. Financial literacy needs to be offered as part of an existing skills-based workforce program that lead to real job placement. Let people know that financial literacy is part of the program.
  4. Encourage employers to offer their employees financial literacy workshops. Many employees approach me for the information to use in their personal lives.
  5. Provide funding (grants) for communities and/or financial literacy professionals to develop workshops or special events in communities where financial literacy workshops do not exist inside existing community programs.
  6. Encourage facilitators to learn about and understand the lives of the people they service. Cultural competency is important when you are trying to direct people.
  7. Find people who are passionate about working with certain student populations and helping them grow economically. It helps tremendously when a facilitator believes in people even if they do not believe in themselves.
  8. Provide professional development opportunities for financial literacy facilitators that will help us to better serve the people we facilitate. There are many certifications we can take advantage of to increase our knowledge on the topics we teach in our programs. We need to connect with some of the associations that provide these certifications.
  9. Consider a contextualized curriculum for financial literacy when possible. Being able to make the connection for students will help them to see the value of a good financial education.

To learn more about NEO Skill Corps, click here

Julie Gilliland on Why She Loves and Appreciates the Cleveland Public Library

Julie Gilliland is Associate Director of Marketing at Cleveland Play House and our guest blogger for this post. She tells why she is a friend of the library and why libraries are so important.

Did you learn everything you need to know in school?

No? Me neither. I grew up in a state(no, not Ohio)  that did not value education or dedicate tax dollars as it should have. The minute I left that state and started working in a “grown up job” I realized what a disadvantage my lack of education was.

I’m a privileged human who grew up in an upper-middle class household with an intact and functional family. I am sure that for this privilege I was carried on the backs of others from less fortunate circumstances. I cannot imagine the albatross, the inadequate education system, was for those who were left wanting. My insecurity could have morphed into the form of the consummate university student never wanting to leave school, thinking those letters behind my name would mean I was finally whole. I am much too frugal for that expensive path. Thanks to scholarships and a string of part-time jobs, extra work on movies and commercials, I paid for my public university bachelor’s degree in the arts and started my career in the non-profit world.

A benefit to the arts career path is a built-in scholarly lifestyle. I have always been surrounded by voracious readers and seekers of knowledge. My colleagues love travel and palate-expanding cuisine. The love of travel rubbed off on me but I sadly still have a peasant palate. I realized I love lifelong learning, and reading is my favorite way to learn. That fire inside me that started as a desire to beat my in-laws at Trivial Pursuit ® only grew from the honeymoon on.

I have a little secret confidence booster I keep in my purse. It’s my well-worn library card. I’ll never stop learning. And it wasn’t because I strapped on the burden of debt from a master’s degree. I fell in love with the Cleveland Public Library. Clevnet.org is my guiltiest pleasure. Reading books for free?! And you get to return them so they don’t collect dust in every corner of your home?! Sign me up!

When my husband and I need to figure out how to fix the washing machine we check out YouTube. When I need to figure out how to spell “hors d’oeuvres” I check out Google. When I need to submerge myself in the calming flow of words I check out a book. You can download it, flip through the pages, or listen to it—they are all forms of that glorious little thing we call a book. Whether you prefer the smell of a new book when you crack it open, an old tattered book that has passed through many loving hands, or the inviting blue light of reading on a device, it’s all the joy of knowledge we gain from reading. Imagine a world where no one reads? Without our varied and fabulous library systems here in Northeast Ohio we might meet that horrible fate. I’m a friend of the Cleveland Public Library, The People’s University, because they have been a friend to me.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to get back to my book. It’s waiting on the bedside table and it is due back next week for the next adventurer. It’s a beautiful little gift we pass back and forth. Talk about enjoying your tax dollars at work. Want to get to know your new best buddy?  Visit my friends at https://cpl.org/ to access one of the best library systems in the United States and continue lighting your path of learning today.

 

Julie Gilliland is Associate Director of Marketing at Cleveland Play House, the recipient of the 2015 Regional Tony ® Award. She has worked for The Cleveland Orchestra, Playhouse Square, and the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. Visit her at www.juliegilliland.com.