In all our sessions with ethnic minority parents the topic of homework comes up. Parents can find it difficult to know how to help their children, particularly if English is not their first language. The Scottish education system is also very different from what parents from other countries have experienced, with less of an emphasis on tests.
We know that it’s important for parents to be partners with the school in their children’s learning and that helping with homework can make a big difference to children’s performance and confidence.
St Albert’s primary school in Glasgow, together with Shagufta Ahmed from the English as an Additional Language department have started a “family learning group” for parents whose first language isn’t English. This lets the parents understand what their children are being taught, learning games and stories that they can do together with their children to support what them with their homework. The group is also a chance for parents to come together to share experiences and support each other. It’s helped parents feel a part of the school and made a big difference in their communication with the teachers and understanding what’s going on in their child’s class.
One of the issues a lot of the parents talked about was their first language. The learning group has story books in English and other languages (including Chinese and Urdu) and gives parents the confidence to recognise that it’s okay for them to speak to their children in their first language. Before the group some parents had been worried that if they spoke to their children in another language it would make things harder for them in school. St Albert’s is try to challenge this and celebrate the different languages within the school- there are signs in different languages all over the “learning group” classroom.
For St Albert’s this is just the beginning and they hope that the parents can help with supporting children with reading in schools and engage with more parents whose first language isn’t English.
It was great to meet the group- particularly the children who really confident and proud of what they’ve done in the group.