Two faculty members of Seton Hall University’s College of Education and Human Services have published "Getting Parents on Board: Partnering to Increase Math and Literacy Achievement, K–5," a book for educators to learn how to work more effectively with elementary school parents to increase student achievement.
The book, published by Routledge, was a joint effort by Alisa Hindin of Maplewood, an associate professor who specializes in literacy development and instruction, and Mary Mueller of Warren, an associate professor who specializes in mathematics education. The professors also serve as co-directors of the College of Education and Human Services’ elementary and special education program and wanted to provide helpful, research-based strategies to foster meaningful home–school partnerships and overcome the challenges teachers may face when trying to build relationships with parents.
“Developing partnerships between teachers and families is critical for children’s learning, and teachers often struggle with building and maintaining effective partnerships,” said Hindin. “In the book, we provide specific ways teachers can both share information with families and learn from families. For example, we provide suggestions for how teachers can inform families about expectations for their children’s literacy and math instruction and learning.”
Mueller added that the book has implications for researchers as well. “'Getting Parents on Board' is important to researchers because we present and analyze the current issues that educators face in involving parents,” she said. “We begin by explaining why parent involvement is important and describe the role that teachers play in supporting and promoting this involvement. We explore today’s educational environment and initiatives and share how these impact the ability of both teachers and parents to meet the needs of children.”
Hindin and Mueller decided to partner for the book after working together as colleagues. “Dr. Hindin and I have worked together for a long time and collaborate on many things,” said Mueller. “Recently, we co-taught a class called Literacy and Numeracy Strategies. In our collaborations, we realized that we shared the same perspectives about teaching and learning. We both do a lot with our own children around math and literacy and always share ideas and strategies. In addition, we both have different expertise (math and literacy) that we have found fit together very nicely.”
“Dr. Mueller is an amazing writing partner,” added Hindin. “She always helps me to elaborate on my ideas so that I share my thinking clearly with the readers. I’ve learned from reading her work about mathematics teaching and learning, which helps me to connect literacy and math both in writing and in teaching.”
The authors also credit the College of Education and Human Services for fostering their ability to contribute scholarly work. “I have been working at Seton Hall for 15 years and have been encouraged to take risks, share my ideas and try new things,” said Mueller. “Dean Grace May has supported me from the beginning, not only encouraging me but also praising me and sharing that she believes my work is valuable. She also promotes collaboration, which helped me build my partnership with Dr. Hindin.”
Hindin and Mueller hope the book inspires educators to value parent involvement. “Teachers can further their understanding of why parent involvement is crucial in today’s society and reflect on their important role in promoting this involvement,” said Mueller. “They are presented with many options for reaching even the most hard-to-reach parents for inclusion. Both new and experienced teachers can gain strategies for involving parents in events such as back-to-school night and parent conferences and learn new ideas for including parents in the school community.”
“Educators gain innumerable strategies for presenting parents with the current trends and standards in teaching math and literacy,” added Mueller. “Throughout the book we share games and activities that educators can implement. They are offered strategies to share with parents for assisting their children at home in these areas and integrating math and literacy ‘talk’ into their daily activities. The book contains hand-outs that can be shared with parents throughout the book and in the form of eResources.”
Hindin reflected on the journey of authorship. “For a long time I have wanted to share ideas for home-school partnerships with teachers in a way that would be most useful for them,” she said. “My greatest hope is that teachers do not give up on trying to work with parents if they are initially unsuccessful. By offering parents different types of invitations and varying opportunities to participate in the classroom, teachers will be able to reach more families. Moreover, if teachers ask parents to work with their children at home, it is important that parents are provided specific and doable activities.”
The researchers will continue to write together and have other books slated for the near future.They recently submitted a book for parents, "Nurturing Your Child’s Math and Literacy in Pre-K to Fifth Grade: The Family Connection," which is due out in November and is being published by Rowman and Littlefield. “We are also currently beginning another book together geared toward future and practicing teachers. This book will present strategies for supporting struggling learners in math and literacy,” said Mueller.