Monday, November 25, 2013

"What is Turkey, Dressing and Mashed Potatoes?"

A new immigrant family arrived into our community.  The young mother received a box of food. During the Parent and Teacher conferences  (with an interpreter),  she asked me how to prepare these items.

I went to her home to find the box of food on the bare kitchen floor. It was a turkey, 1 box of stuffing mix, and a box of mashed potato flakes. She showed me her kitchen. She did not own any baking dishes or pans.

If someone gave you this package, could you prepare it for dinner?
This made me think of the families that receive these plentiful gifts but do not know how to use/cook them.  It is that time of year when our community schools, churches and organizations give food to many families in need. It is truly a blessing to give and to receive! For our new immigrant families they may not know what is turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes. In the Asian culture, they do not have turkeys and they do not use ovens. Also, they may not be able to read and/or understand the directions on an instant food box. When giving this abundance of food, it may be helpful for PTA members, neighbors and outreach personal to personally deliver the food and help prepare the new food. If an interpreter is not available, you could model how to cook the items and use the oven...and teach basic English "kitchen vocabulary!" 

Another option is to ask a community leader what is the need for the newly arrived family? A gift card to their favorite supermarket may be best for them to buy the food they like to eat.

I created a Thanksgiving recipe cookbook for the new families. I wrote it in simple English and added pictures. Most parents received a copy at Parent and Teacher Conferences (their children asked to show their parents how to make turkey!)
The parents were very excited about receiving their first Thanksgiving cookbook!

It took me one hour to demonstrate how to cook the food the parent asked me at the Parent and Teacher Conference. While the turkey cooked, she showed me the family pictures. The smell of turkey filled the air! I was happy to share their first Thanksgiving feast in USA of what is turkey, dressing and mashed potatoes!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Helping foreign-born parents with Parent & Teacher Conferences

Do you know a foreign-born neighbor that has a child in elementary school?
Maybe their child goes to school with your child. In their culture, they may
not have parent teacher conferences. Here are some tips that you may help
another parent prepare for the upcoming conferences:

The Conference Format
The typical conference with your child’s
homeroom teacher takes about 15-20 minutes
and provides you with a valuable opportunity:

• To see examples of your child’s work
in reading and mathematics.
• To review grade-level expectations and
your child’s progress.
• To ask questions about specific
concerns or get additional information.
• To find out how you can reinforce
classroom learning at home.

Before the Conference . . .
Review your child’s report card:

• Do you understand the grading system?

• Is your child below, on or above grade
level in reading and mathematics?

• Are there any learning behaviors that
need improvement?

Talk with your child:
• How does your child feel about school?

• How does your child think he/she is
doing in school?

• Is there anything that your child wants
you to ask or tell the teacher?

Do you have particular concerns about
your child:

• How does he/she get along with other

• Is your child working up to his/her

Have there been any major changes at home
or school that might have an impact on your
child’s school work:
• Health concerns?

• Family issues?

• New teacher?

• Separation from friends?

During the Conference . . .
Be an active listener and take notes.
To make the best use of limited conference
time, focus your attention on the areas most
important to your child.
Consider the following topics as possibilities
for discussion with the teacher:

• In which area(s) is your child doing well?

• In which area(s) does he/she need to

• Has your child adjusted well to the
class and the teacher?

• What are some of your child’s special
interests or concerns?

• How can you help your child at home?

• What other resources are available to
help your child?

And yes! You can read to your child if you do not speak English!
Take a picture walk and talk about the pictures!  Make personal you and your child's home language! :-)

~ “If you teach the parents, it helps teach their children.”

                                Laurel Conran WASHPOST 7/2011