UMASD ESL Department Offers Parent Engagement Workshops
For practically a decade, the Upper Merion Area School District’s English as a Second Language (ESL) Department has been offering parent engagement workshops twice a year to the families of students who are English learners in the English Language Development Program. As it is the single-most reliable predictor of academic success for students, regardless of ethnicity or social economic status or language background, parent engagement is critical.
Topics are selected based upon a needs analysis of families, who are largely immigrants unfamiliar with the American schooling system, and often include both District personnel and community partners as resources. During the past years, workshops have addressed the value and role of native language literacy as the foundation for English acquisition, the importance of early language literacy, how to navigate the school website and parent access accounts, the college application process, and mental health issues.
“The Role of Extracurricular Activities in the Development of Your Child” was the featured presentation for the spring parent engagement workshop held on April 10, 2019. A record-high 82 parents attended the workshop to learn why extracurricular activities are essential for students’ development—as extracurricular activities accelerate the development of language skills, promote social connections with peers and adult mentors, as well as improving the look of student applications for university and scholarships consideration.
Both District staff and community partners, including Upper Merion Park and Recreation, the Upper Merion Township Library, and a local Girl Scouts Troop, presented information about music, arts, sports and club participation opportunities ranging from the elementary level through the high school.
Whole families came out to an evening of information, with children’s crafts and gym activities provided by West Chester University students and Upper Merion Area High School student members of the CREATE Diversity Club.