Family University: Supporting Parents to Support Students

Nov 11, 2020

One of my favorite parts of this work is making connections with folks doing similar work. I’m a long-time fan of Caleb Dolan (fun fact: my mom was his middle school art teacher!). Caleb has been in education for almost 25 years, and I respect him deeply. When he sent me the KIPP MA’s Family University session to help parents, guardians, and families share resources to support Together Student stuff during these challenging times, I was ALL EARS. Caleb notes the purpose of Family University’s weekly sessions that have been happening since September. KIPP MA wanted to create a space for families across their schools to share ideas, strategies, and challenges related to remote learning.

Caleb and his team created this space for families because:

“Parents are being asked to do something extraordinary– keep your family thriving during the pandemic and become a co-educator.  We wanted to offer technical training like how to use our online systems and track assignments–while also creating space for families to share struggles and strategies with each other. We want families to know they are not alone, they have expertise, and we will move forward together.”

Let’s peek at a few slides.

I love a good Do-Now in a Zoom session! All about the chat!

KIPP MA’s Family University Do Now

The framing and honoring of family experiences in the next slide feels especially powerful. As a mom juggling two remote learners myself, I really appreciated this messaging.

KIPP MA’s Session Framing

The short PowerPoint deck goes on to share several big ideas, but this was my favorite. Families, we need to take care of ourselves.

KIPP MA’s Big Idea #2

Next come some concrete strategies, and an opportunity for parents to share ideas with one another. As a former fifth grade teacher, I love, love, love the “Ask Three Before You Ask Me.” For our non-teachers out there, this just means ask others for help before you ask the parent or adult in charge!

KIPP MA’s Strategy Slide

Caleb said this about parent interactions: “One parent asked about what to do with her child during breaks between Zoom.  Other parents responded with five or six ideas. You could observe the gratitude and lifting of stress that came as a result of that parent-to-parent help.”

Thanks to Caleb and the KIPP MA team for sharing – and for showing off Chrystie’s Together Kid video.

Reader Reflection: What can you – and your school – do to build stronger parent community and support right now?