The beginning of the school year brings so many new faces together in the classroom where children and teachers will spend most of their waking hours. Teachers begin building a community in their classrooms right away, hoping to create a welcoming, successful atmosphere for their students. Families wait to hear about their children’s days at school, hoping that they get along with their teachers and classmates, do well on their work, and have fun. How can the hopes of teachers and families be combined to create one family-like community?
In order for children to be successful in school, it is essential for teachers and families to build a positive, productive relationship. A large part of this relationship should be finding a way to bridge the gap between home and school, creating the “third space.” In her book, Hidden Worlds, Clare Kelly uses the term “third space” to refer to “a meeting place for the worlds of home and school” (pg. 79). When children enter this new world of school, it is comforting to have familiar, home-like aspects throughout their day. Teachers learn about the home lives of their students by talking with families and children, sending home surveys about routines or special family activities, and observing family-child interactions. By learning about their students’ lives outside of school, teachers can make children’s days at school more familiar and comfortable, which will help lead to academic success.
Families are especially encouraged to share details about their child’s literacy experiences outside of school so that the teacher can use methods of literacy learning that fit with what each child is used to. Children learn best through pursuing their own interests, and families are the best source of this information for teachers at the beginning of the school year. Help your child’s teacher facilitate a productive meaningful and enjoyable literacy experience for the class by sharing your family’s literacy practices--what books you love to read, what music and television your child listens to and watches, how your child plays, and if you do arts or crafts at home. Families are a teacher’s most valuable resource for creating a community within their classroom, so share your family’s information to help him or her make your child’s classroom a comfortable, literacy-loving environment.