As ESSA takes root, partnering with teachers shows kids a united front and shared goals

Schools nationwide are in the 18-month process that began last year of implementing the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). As teachers and district administrators respond, it’s a great time for parents to implement a “family plan” for supporting learning.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, the act “was signed by President Obama on December 10, 2015, and represents good news for our nation’s schools.” It replaces the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act, which, while they say, “shined a light on where students were making progress and where they needed additional support,” the Department adds that “over time, NCLB’s prescriptive requirements became increasingly unworkable for schools and educators.”

While still needing to demonstrate proficiency in math and reading, ESSA requires less emphasis on standardized testing than in recent years. According to FAQs compiled by the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) , “ESSA requires state to use other indicators of student achievement and school quality. These include student and educator engagement, school climate, access to and completion of advanced coursework, and postsecondary readiness.”

As part of ESSA, noted Chris Shade, writing for Ready Rosie last year in an article titled, “ESSA Parent and Family Engagement,” each school will develop a “parent and family engagement policy” that will include “the ways in which each parent will be responsible for supporting their children’s learning.

For working parents, the juggle of priorities can be stressful, especially because every parent wants the best for their child. In June, the Harvard Business Review, published “How Working Parents Can Manage the Demands of School-Age Kids,” by Daisy Wademan Dowling. It acknowledges the intense pressures working parents face, both at work and at home, to be their best, as well as to participate in conferences and take their turn at pitching in during classroom activities.

One creative tool that Dowling suggests is to “make ‘family study hall’ a habit.” She writes, “Beat the nightly homework drama (the nagging, the power struggles, the bargaining, the tears) by setting a hard-and-fast time each evening that the whole family has study hall: silent, dedicated work time around the dining table.” She positions it as a win-win, in that “The kids do their homework and you catch up on office emails or reading.” Set a timer, and when it rings, “the whole family gets to enjoy downtime or a relaxing activity like watching a favorite TV program together.”

In terms of the parent-teacher relationship, a great tip that Dowling offers is to “Treat teachers and administrators as you would valued colleagues (because that’s what they are).”

Learning tools such as flash cards and write & reuse activities help give kids lots of practice, at their own pace and at low cost, while reinforcing the idea that’s it’s OK to make mistakes because we can improve. They also encourage both parent-child interaction and solo practice. School Zone offers a wide range of flash cards. Preschoolers and kindergartners will also love the new Write & Reuse workbooks designed just for them that lets them refine brand-new skills.

Anywhere Teacher, an online learning destination that connects children ages 2-8 with powerful learning wherever they are—anywhere, anytime, is another great resource for preparing little ones for school and supplementing classroom learning for slightly older kids. During this weekend (September 14-16) it’s 50% off a year’s worth of monthly subscription!

Modeling teamwork and close collaboration, including supporting lessons from the classrom, will help kids see that everyone wants them to be successful and will also show them how we all work together for best results.