Eight weeks ago, my son Scott’s preschool teacher handed me a brown paper lunch bag full of art supplies and project ideas that she hoped would help keep him busy for the (intended) 2-week school closure.
On behalf of the Family Engagement Lab team, we would like to extend our appreciation for the educators and families that are working tirelessly to rethink how we all support the needs of our children through the COVID-19 crisis. Families are now on the front line of our education system, especially for our younger learners. Parent-teacher collaboration in learning is needed now more than ever.
To support our partners during the COVID-19 pandemic and related school closures, we are offering FASTalk to teachers across PK-5, along with a new service, FASTalk Direct. In addition, we have created new at-home learning activities and tips to help families support healthy emotional response during the crisis and provide a strong foundation for continued learning. These new services are described here.
We have appreciated the opportunity to connect with many of you over the past few weeks to learn more about how you have been affected by COVID-19. If we have not yet connected, we would love to chat with you. In the meantime, please stay safe, healthy, and hopeful.
Vidya Sundaram and Elisabeth O'Bryon
Co-Founders, Family Engagement Lab
Your team may be confronting virtual collaboration for the first time. As the CEO of a company with a distributed team from the start (Elisabeth is in Maryland and I am in California), I know we are not the only “virtual company” but definitely not the norm. Perhaps more companies are used to having a few remote employees while most are on-site. If you’re temporarily shifting to all remote, take heart. I’ve found it’s easier. Here are some tips that we’ve found to be helpful:
In this month’s Learning Series, we’ll be sharing information on early literacy development and how families can help build these critical foundational skills. It’s a timely subject! The ongoing debate regarding how children acquire literacy skills seems to have reached a new plateau, prompted in part by last fall’s NAEP scores showing declines in reading achievement for students in most of the country.
Across the country, parents are eager for more information about what happens inside the schools and classrooms where their children spend a significant amount of time each week.
Limited time, resources, and language barriers can all inhibit regular two-way communication between schools and families, and relying on children to be the key messengers for school-related information can introduce other challenges. I know my three-year-old is unlikely to give me a detailed response to a very specific question about his day, much less a comprehensive recounting of all the week’s events!
This new year I've been reflecting on the passing of my dad, Dr. Panchanatham Naga Sundaram, in 2019. Born in pre-independence India in 1939, his sharp intellect and tenacity as a researcher yielded him a personal invitation from halfway around the world—UC Berkeley—to study Civil Engineering. A lot changed in his lifetime that made it possible for him to settle in the US with his family. For example, the 1965 Immigration Act finally opened the United States’ doors to Asian immigration. Furthermore, while my great-grandparents’ generation considered travel across oceans a strict religious taboo, my grandparents proudly encouraged my father’s scholarship abroad.
Two Heads Are Better than One: Why teachers should partner with parents to accelerate diverse student learning
While co-founding a startup may not be the traditional path for someone with a Ph.D. in school psychology, I find countless connections between my training and experience and our work at Family Engagement Lab to help teachers and families collaborate to support student success. The connection is especially strong when considering our targeted efforts to promote the success of diverse learners, including students identified as English learners (ELs) and students with disabilities.
The Family Engagement Learning Series will offer a range of information, best practices, and tools to connect families to student learning