I strongly believe that more public schools should be investing in grandparent initiatives. I say this as an advocate for grandparents raising school aged children as well from my experience as a Special Education teacher.
I found success in helping bridge the gap between school and home. It was my background as a teacher that helped bring more awareness to the parent liaison position that quite honestly still isn’t valued the way that it should be in public schools.
Knowing your family and community base is key to being able to serve them well.
I remember attending a family engagement conference session led by Dr. Karen Mapp. She highlighted data showing that creating programming for families is what helps improve student achievement. The key is to make sure you are serving all families by not creating a one size fits all approach.
Immediately upon return to Atlanta, I began to reset and reposition the schools within our cluster family engagement work. We began creating programming and initiatives that would help elevate the parents and students being overlooked, left behind, or not supported like they should.
The grandparents initiative came from the advocacy of APS grandparents in Lillie’s Foundation. They wanted other grandparents outside of our program to receive academic support as well.
It’s truly about how we present the information from the school to grandparents and families period!
Investing in support for grandparents raising school aged children in public schools means being intentional about social, emotional, and academic support for the grandparents.
A major piece of the support needed for grandparents are ways to effectively continue education at home and resources to connect their grandchild(ren) to their desired interests.
Why should more public schools invest in grandparent initiatives?
It’s an investment in a population of students who can use additional wrap around services for social emotional development/learning support outside of the classroom.
How can they invest?
Public school leaders can invest by setting aside Title I dollars to help grandparents understand school programming software i.e. Infinite Campus, BrainPop, Kahootz, and other apps. They can also have homework hotlines/virtual assistance after school hours to help grandparents with assignments their grandchildren are completing at home.
Who is currently doing the work?
In Atlanta, Lillie’s Foundation has our Lillie’s CARES Initiative that supports several senior homes/community residences as well as our programming we offer to the APS schools. We’ve also partnered with grandparents raising school aged children in Atlanta who reach out to us and need support.
Several churches in Atlanta also have groups that support grandparents and partner with school PTA/PTOs in order to provide resources for grandparents. For example, Deerwood Academy in Atlanta has had a very strong and active grandparent initiative. They provide initiatives for grandparents to come and read with students in small groups to elevate literacy.
Jason has worked in education for over 15 years as a teacher, blogger and community advocate. He speaks and writes primarily about the need to improve education for Black boys, particularly increasing the number of Black male educators in schools. In addition to blogging here at EdLanta, Jason is also a featured writer at Education Post.